Thursday, December 24, 2009

THE FIRST CHRISTMAS -- Devotional for December 24, from "Good Seeds"

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, Simeon by name, devout and righteous, who had been looking for the consolation of Israel. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before He had seen the Lord’s Christ. The Spirit led him to the temple on the very night when the parents brought in the child Jesus to carry out the custom of the law. He took Him into his arms and blessed God saying, “Now, let Thy bondservant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen Thy salvation. (Luke 2:25-30)

“Christmas with a Capital C” is a new song by GO FISH, a group that targets children as their preferred audience. The group's name is appropriate for two reasons: 1) It’s a simple, non-threatening game, enjoyed by all ages; 2) The sign of the fish has been the symbol for the church of Jesus Christ since its inception. The song begins with an introduction something like this: “‘Happy Holidays!’ How do you feel when people say this to you at Christmas time? If it puts you out when this sacred Holy Day is reduced to a worldly holiday, let me suggest to you something you could say in response: ‘Happy Holidays’? Well, thank you – I am pretty HAPPY, but there’s only one HOLIDAY that makes me feel that way (and then they start to sing)…It’s called Christmas, what more can I say; It’s about the birth of Christ, and you can’t take that away. You can call it something else but that’s not what it will be: It’s called Christmas with a capital C. The very word Christmas means “celebrate Christ.” On the first Christmas Jesus was the only reason for the season. The first celebrants were the angels – oh, and Mary and Joseph, too. Who else even knew about the birth of the Messiah? The innkeeper knew a baby was about to be born, but the only witnesses of that birth were the parents – and the animals in the stable back behind that crowded inn. The angels announced the birth to shepherds out in the fields, who went immediately to see the Child. The Wise Men would not be arriving till many months later. So, who were the first Christmas celebrants? Parents, angels, shepherds. When was the first Christmas? The night of that miraculous birth, of course – but eight days later another possibly much deeper “Christ-mass” took place, this time in the temple. Today people like to say “Christmas is for kids,” or at least, “Christmas brings out the kid in everyone.” But it was no little children with “visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads” who rejoiced that day, but rather an old man, who was just hanging onto life until he saw “the Lord’s Christ.” And it’s still true today: Life, even the good life, spiced up with exciting holidays, will mean nothing to you, and do nothing for you, until the Christ of Christmas is born in you!

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