As a child, I began planning every Christmas for what I wanted and I hoped to receive from Santa Claus the next Christmas. Would it be a “Red Ryder BB” gun, a new toolbox of more advanced tools, a Lionel Electric Train, a chemistry lab or a rector set? Some of those dreams were realized and I continued to dream and plan.
Dr. Melissa Pratt, one of the nation’s superb writers and effective public speakers, delivered a message she titled, “The Journey Into Christmas” My careful attention and her persuasive style of speaking helped me gain insights about preparation for Christmas which were intellectually stimulating.
She referred to the C. S. Lewis book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which deals with three schoolchildren, Edmund, Lucy and Eustace, who enter Narnia through a magical painting and encounter another world that begins breaking into our own world. Strange and exciting things happen when another world invades our own. Pratt said, “There is a greater reality, a perfect reality that exists beyond the dimension in which we are confined.”
Did the Virgin Mary have an experience similar to that when the angel Gabriel visited her in Nazareth? Luke 1:26-28 tells us, “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named, Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you’.”
Try to imagine all that happened to Mary, her thoughts and decisions, as she journeyed to Bethlehem and as the key personality in the birth of the Christ child, without whom there would be no Christmas to celebrate. It was an uncertain journey, but she had this assurance, “The Lord is with you.”
Through Mary and her child who was named Jesus, the blessings of true hope, peace, joy and love came to our world. It came from outside our world, but is now available to all in our world who will accept these matchless gifts.
Ernest Renan, French philologist and historian (1823-92) in his historical and religious writing, observed, “All history is incomprehensible without Christ.” Those who are not of the Christian faith have different ways of reacting to Christmas just as they do to the observance of Easter, the celebration that validates the virgin birth of Jesus as well as of His resurrection from the dead.
“Joy to the world!” is one of the great songs of Christmas that brings the hope of better things to a world in turmoil. Phillips Brooks, the celebrated American preacher and Episcopal bishop, 1835-1893, who wrote one of our most popular Christmas carols, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, called, “Jesus Christ, the condescension of divinity, and the exaltation of humanity.” What we believe about Jesus determines what we believe about Christmas and how we celebrate its meaning.
As we continue the journey into Christmas, we can expect surprises. The unexpected can always be expected. Christmas and its message move us closer to the fulfillment of all our dreams of a better way to live, to die and to live again.
Pratt concluded her discourse with these words: “For Christians, Christmas is the observation and celebration that a perfect reality does exist. The fact that God came to us in the person of Jesus, proves that there is a place and a realm beyond what we are currently experiencing.” And we continue to sing, “Joy to the world! The Lord is come.”
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Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books. He is also a widely known motivational speaker and pulpit guest who utilizes enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems makes him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.
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