“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2:8-11, NIV)

The Christmas narrative recorded in Luke continues to be the most widely-read story during the holidays. The Christ child, born in a manager more than 2,000 years ago, changed the world for all times. We may fail to realize how that first Christmas was celebrated as we view the commercial approach to the birth of Christ.

However, God still works through people—like you and me—to achieve his purposes. This holiday season, let your hearts rejoice as you see people, in their own way, worshiping the Christ child.

Recently, I observed a group of kindergarten children singing carols at a nursing home. Dressed as angels in their dad’s white shirts, these youngsters lifted their voices to sing about the babe in a manager. So simple, yet so innocent, they proclaimed the Savior’s birth. As I watched, I noticed etched in the faces of those in wheelchairs and on walkers, Christmases past and witnessed smiles that brought back memories.

In front of a neighborhood grocery store, the Salvation Army set up their red kettles for their annual Christmas giving program. Watching those who passed by, I watched the faces of those who made a donation and those who ignored the bell-ringer. Without fail, those who stuffed a bill or loose change into the opening, stood straighter and a smile soften their face. Once again, I was reminded of, “It is more blessed to give, than to receive.”

What would Christmas be like without the wonderful old hymns? “Silent Night,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and others. These familiar Christmas songs are part of our heritage and help us visualize the manger, the angels and the Holy family. Search for church and community events that provide programs that fill your heart and lift your spirits through music.

Plan times to celebrate with family and friends during the season. Do you have friends who come back home to visit family? Will classmates from college return for special events? Contact these and plan to meet for a meal or coffee. Keeping up with people from your past is a way to stay in touch and show you care. Parents and grandparents are setting an example for children to follow.

What makes “Christmas” for you? How do you know when you have “caught” the spirit? Look for ways to celebrate simple Christmas blessings as you observe the birthday of Christ, our Lord.

Carolyn Tomlin, of Jackson, writes for numerous publications. She is the co-author of The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister and teaches workshops on writing for the magazine market. She can be reached by email at tomlinm@bellsouth.net

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