Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas, Lest We Forget

Like most people I know, I've been following the tragic news stories coming out of Newtown, CT.  My heart goes out to the friends, families, and neighbors of those who were taken much too early and for a community who will fill the week before Christmas with funerals rather than parties.  The stories say that Newtown is removing its Christmas decorations and one high school student was quoted on his first day back to school as saying, "There's going to be no joy in school.  It really doesn't feel like Christmas anymore."  The early end to Christmas festivities seem appropriate.  After all, who could possibly be in the mood to celebrate much of anything?  The thought hasn't sat quite right to me, though, and I've mulled it over the last couple of days.  This morning it dawned on me that Christmas is exactly what we need to be celebrating right now.  I don't mean the shopping-party-food-commercial aspect of Christmas.  I mean the baby-born-in-a-manger-to-live-a-perfect-life-die-and-be-resurrected-to-redeem-all-of-mankind aspect of Christmas- the real Reason for the Season!

Who doesn't need to see a million nativity scenes to remind us that the Savior really was here and really did do what He came to do?  Or angels from heaven who proclaimed His birth?  Or candy canes- the symbol of the shepherds who were the first to seek the tiny babe after learning of his birth from the mouth of an angel of God?  What about the need for a star to guide us to the one place to find real, lasting hope and peace? A Christmas tree with it's evergreen leaves to remind us that life is eternal?  Lights to see reminders every where we go of the One who lights our way when things are darkes?  Red wrappings and bows and poinsettias the color of the blood that would be spilled to guarantee eternal life for each of those dear individuals and every other person who has ever walked the earth?  Bells to ring out the joyful news?  Music to give voice to that news?  Families, friends, and neighbors looking for more ways to serve and love each other?  Even Santa, who is a symbol of giving, loving, and caring for each other?  We need every one of these symbols of Christmas.

One does not need to be Christian to still find reasons to celebrate this time of year.  Though it came to a close the day after the tragic events, the lights of the menorahs celebrating Hanukkah served as a poignant reminder that there is a God in heaven and He does watch over his children.  There will be tragedies and heart break and hard times, but the tender mercies of a loving, all powerful God will be there to remind us that He's there.

So, may I shout from my virtual house-top:

Merry Christmas!!!

Yes, we do need Christmas, and this year more than ever.  Let's lay aside the commercial trappings, but let us never forget the real reason; for that is the greatest gift of all.  That is where our Joy will be found.