The true meaning of Christmas
It seems every year about this time before Christmas I start to think back to times long ago when our lack of technology and the slower pace of life seemed to draw us closer to the true Christmas spirit.
Take for example the era that was illustrated in the paintings of Norman Rockwell, a time before television, and rotary telephones and radios were all they had then and many children were probably waiting for a new Radio Flyer sled for Christmas. The evenings for many in the community, young and old, often were taken up in the winter with ice skating on the local rink.
Norman Rockwell had a unique gift in capturing the humanity of all of his pictured subjects and the soul of America became the heart-warming covers of the Saturday Evening Post. My favorite of his paintings is titled, “Saying Grace,” which is on my kitchen wall. In this he shows a young boy and his grandmother saying grace in a crowded restaurant with all the patrons looking on with first time curiosity at what prayer before meals is all about. Rockwell knew that people were very proud of their faith and there was no hesitation in putting it on a national magazine. Do our advanced technologies and lifestyles along with today’s political correctness make the true meaning of Christmas seem more distant?
Then at this time of year I always enjoy the Christmas movies of the past. I have a special liking of all of Frank Capra’s movies, but his best perennial Christmas movie is, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and who hasn’t seen this at least a dozen times. We recall in the movie how George Bailey’s guardian angel allows him to see his town as though George had never been born. What kind of a contrast would we see in our world if Christ had never been born?
Does the secular world need their guardian angels to show them what life on earth would be like without Christ’s influence? All that embodies the Christmas spirit, love, caring, unselfish giving and peace and goodwill to mankind would be missing.
The other great Christmas movie I’m sure we all have seen that tells us we are never too late to find the Christmas spirit, is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge from Dicken’s, “A Christmas Carol.” The version I like best is with George C Scott playing Scrooge. Scott does an extremely good job of showing the drastic contrast that takes place in Scrooge before and after the three ghosts of Christmas visit him. He is truly a different person after his visits are complete, he now sees for the first in his life the people around him who are struggling, the people he avoided so he wouldn’t have to respond to their pain and suffering. He now becomes a very likeable person and wants to be liked by these people who have entered his new found life. I don’t need three ghosts to show me I need more of the reformed Scrooge in my life.
This may cause us to drop back in time about two thousand years ago to that first Silent Night. This was the night that the world was totally changed by one solitary vulnerable child, the greatest child ever born yet with the greatest humility of only having a stable for His birth. Who came to us at this time transformed the world but also how He came to us tells the message that His kingdom is not of this world. His coming tells us that, faith in God, trust and love of mankind will be forever what we all should strive for. This is the true meaning of Christmas. It was Christ coming to us in our great need that brought us Christmas, and today we have no greater need than to keep Christ in Christmas.
We are all invited to hold onto the true meaning of Christmas and share our joy in the Christmas spirit with just two cherished words…….Merry Christmas.