Christmas is the most fun holiday. Even in the midst of all its commercialism, or maybe because of it, it is a holiday to look forward to and to anticipate even as much as we complain about the preparation, the money spent, and the traffic endured for the big event called Christmas morning.
For children, Christmas is the most wonderful day on the calendar, eclipsing even your birthday. There’s no school, everyone’s excited, and oodles of toys and fun stuff await. There’s enough food to make you sick and extended family is all around. It is a communal and cultural experience so easy to embrace which is why I believe so many countries celebrate it. They see American movies about Christmas and say, “I want that.”
A few years ago, my family and I traveled to Israel for Christmas. At midnight on Christmas Eve we stood in Bethlehem’s Shepherds’ Field where the angels first proclaimed to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest!” Standing there was a sober reminder to me of Jesus’ humble origins of a child born to a single mother with questionable parentage in a tiny village – in a barn no less – in a remote corner of the Roman Empire.
Standing in the quietness of that field, I was struck by how distorted Christmas has become. Yet for all its ribbons, tinsel, and bows Christmas is nothing without Jesus. Nothing. Jesus is, and remains, the central figure of world civilization, the spiritual head of a worldwide body with billions of followers and the Son of God who separated BC from AD.
So with Christmas fast-approaching and as the world scurries about me hurtling towards Christmas morning, I reflect on my evening in Shepherd’s Field, the quietness, the darkness and imagining that one glorious night when the world changed forever and the midnight sky burst forth in light, and the angels and the heavenly hosts appeared proclaiming, “I bring you good news of great joy….For to you this day in Bethlehem, a Savior was born, who is Christ the Lord.”
And in an instant the world changed…and it has never has been the same.