By Dr. Hal Brady
As someone suggested, “Charlie Brown isn’t the only one who asked, ‘what’s Christmas all about.’” Real people also ask it. Well, what is Christmas all about? Permit me to offer a few suggestions.
Christmas is about God being with us! “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us …” (John 1:14). One of my favorite Christmas stories is about the little boy who was walking home one evening with his father from a Christmas Candlelight Service. This was in England during World War I. The families who had a son in the service would place a candle in the window and each evening the candle would be lit. The lighted candle was symbolic of the fact that they had given a son to the nation to show them the way.
The boy made a game of counting the candles in the windows of the houses. As the little boy and his father continued their walk home they came to a vacant lot where there was no house. It was a clear night and the lad looked up at the sky and saw a very bright star. And seeing this, he said happily to his father, “Look daddy, there’s a light in God’s window.” And so it is!
The late Dr. George Buttrick, notable Presbyterian minister, said that “people are at home with Jesus: afraid and yet deeply at home. We must never pretend that the heavens were emptied when he came. Jesus does not resolve or dissolve the mystery of God: He reveals God. In other words, the love revealed in Jesus is the very nature of ultimate reality itself.”
Christmas is about love being the solution! Many have preached and continue to preach that the greatest power in the world is force. Well, it oftentimes seems so, because force undoubtedly makes more noise than anything else. Force is also the screaming lead story of all our news programs. But as Christmas demonstrates, the greatest power is love.
God wanted a way to get this truth over to the human family so He had to figure out a way to do it. And God figured that the best way to do it was to put it into the most lovable form known to humankind – a baby. Most everybody loves a baby. Most everybody loves a child’s face. And this baby has indeed captured the imagination and heart of the world. Only God could have thought of it.
But we human beings are so easily impressed or duped by seemingly mighty false Messiahs who say they are going to conquer the world. But history is replete with those who tried and failed.
Later in his life, the great conqueror Napoleon, stated, “Caesar, Charlemagne and I founded great empires. On what did our genius depend? On force. Jesus of Nazareth founded His Kingdom on love and service. And today millions do Him honor.”
Christmas is about being reminded that we are family! “The word became flesh” not only for us but for all humankind as well. Consequently, one of the great additional meanings of Christmas is that we are family. Christmas clears up our confusion on how we are to relate to other people.
And certainly this is a message desperately needed in our fearful world of today. In the midst of wars and rumors of wars, violence and turmoil, fear and suspicion and prejudice, Christmas comes with its beautiful vision of peace and reminder that we are family.
Centuries ago a prophet under the starry sky raised his eyes and prayed, “O God, is there hope?” And the voice of God came to him, “Yes, Micah, there is hope.” “But when and where?” cried the prophet. There came back the answer, “In Bethlehem.” From that time on Bethlehem became a symbol of hope not only for ancient times but for our times and all times as well. Merry Christmas!
Dr. Hal Brady is a retired pastor who continues to present the Good News of Jesus Christ and offer encouragement in a fresh and vital way though Hal Brady Ministries.