Pretend for a moment that Heaven’s hosts never made the skies resound with “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Conceive, if you can, of no Bethlehem star lighting the darkness on that pivotal night in history. Suppose Christ had not been born on that faraway Judean morn.
An enchanting bit of fantasy describes the emotions of a pastor, who, falling asleep in his study on Christmas morning dreamed of a world to which Christ had never come.
In his reverie, he looked in vain for stockings on the mantel. There were no gifts in bright wrapping, no bells or wreaths of holly.
Walking outside, he found no church with its spire pointing heavenward. Returning to his study, every book in his library about the Savior was gone.
Now, he was at the bedside of a mother who was passing away. He opened his Bible to read, “Let not your heart be troubled. . . . I go to prepare a place for you . . .” but the Book ended with Malachi.
The vision changed. He stood by her coffin. With no assurance of the resurrected life, he heard himself intoning, “Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.”
He burst into tears. No Babe had been born in the manger.
He awakened with a start. Worship had begun in the nearby sanctuary. The caroling choir had roused him with its opening rhapsody in song:
O come, all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant,
O come ye,
O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him,
born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
The imagery in the minister’s dream is strikingly parallel with reality in far too many of our hearts and homes at the yuletide. It is as if He had never come at all. One can all but hear Christ in soliloquy:
“Again My Day came. Vast numbers remembered it. My name rang out everywhere ... ‘Merry Christmas.’ Gifts were in profusion, yet none for Me. It was My birthday, but I was forgotten. I walked amid the festivities unnoticed. It was almost like it was when ‘there was no room in the inn.’”
Observing Christmas is not necessarily keeping it. Attention must, even now, be focused on the original Present which was “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.”
Truly wise men still worship Him with their gifts of “gold (pure devotion), frankincense (prayers) and myrrh (fragrant lives).” Minus these elements, Christmas becomes a caricature.
A gift is not a gift until it is warmly received. Have we yet accepted Him into our grateful hearts. May we now.
Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, If He’s not born in us, our lives remain forlorn.“As many as received Him .. . become the sons of God.” This is what makes Christmas — Christmas.
*Years ago, I used this article by Clay Cooper in a magazine of which I was editor. Used here with permission — C. Buxton