It’s been just a bit of a hard Christmas around our house this year. It’s not that we have had to face any big tragic event, we’ve had our fair share of those through the years, but right now we are all healthy and strong, employed and happy, that’s not what has made this Christmas hard. The problem you see, is that one of my kids, the middle one, the 10 year old, has learned some hard truths about Christmas this year. You know the truths I’m talking about…the truth about what’s real and what’s not, what’s make believe and what’s true. And let me tell you, this discovery has not been easy…for either of us!
My oldest child also figured this all out in the last year but she has taken it all in stride. She knows what is true, she knows what is not. She will still play along for her younger brothers, and gets delighted in the little traditions we do to celebrate, but she smiles a little more knowing she has “insider knowledge”.
This is not the case for my middle child. He is having a much harder time with it all. He’s disappointed and sad, and rethinking everything he has ever been told about Christmas. So we sat down the other night, just he and I, and we had a heart to heart.
Just to be clear, we have always told our kids what the Truth of Christmas is, my kiddo just needed a reminder. So I told him.
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the only Son of God, who gave up Heaven to come to earth. He came as an infant born to a virgin, in a lonely stable because no one would make room for the one who had come to save them all. This is the truth. It isn’t the truth because we believe it; we believe it because it’s true. And nothing will ever change this or keep it from being true.
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From the very beginning there were only a few people who recognized Jesus for who he was, the Savior God had promised. Of course Mary and Joseph knew who he was, there were also the Shepherds who came to see him the night he was born. Then there was the people in the temple when Joseph and Mary took Jesus to be consecrated to the Lord, Simeon and Anna. Of course we can’t forget the magi who traveled from the East to meet this new born King. Of all the people in Bethlehem and Jerusalem these were the few who saw the newborn child and recognized him as the Savior of the world, they knew the truth. But the number of believers isn’t what made it the truth. Truth is not dependent on people believing it, truth just is.
As Jesus grew and started his earthly ministry more and more people began to recognize him for who he was. There was John the Baptist, his twelve disciples, Martha and Mary, and Mary Magdalene, Stephen, Paul, Luke and John Mark. There was a time when crowds of people followed Jesus, hung on his every word, and believed everything he said. And then one night it all changed. The crowds fell away and the guards came, and Jesus was arrested. He was crucified on a cross and three days later he rose again. Once again the crowd was divided, some believed this man was exactly who he said he was, and others denied who he was. But that didn’t change the truth. Jesus Christ IS the Son of God, he was born in a stable to a virgin and he died on a cross.
In the years, decades and centuries that followed, this pattern repeated itself. Some believed, others did not. One man living in the 3rd century believed Jesus was exactly whom he said he was. And when this young man named Nicholas became an orphan, he did what Jesus told his followers to do. He sold off all he had and gave the money to the poor, especially looking out for poor children. He eventually became the Bishop of Myra and gave generously to the poor and to the children in the area. Nicholas lived in a time when it was illegal to be a Christian and he was heavily persecuted and even imprisoned for what he believed in, but that didn’t change the truth of what he believed. Even when it was illegal, it was still true. When Nicholas died on Dec 6, A.D. 343 he became an official Saint of the church, Saint Nicholas.
He was an inspiration to all who knew him and his legacy of giving gifts to young children has lived on for almost 2000 years. His story has been retold, exagerated, and retold again. Nicholas was human, he lived and he died. He was a good man, but HE is not the reason we celebrate. HE is not the meaning of Christmas. The one St. Nicholas gave his life to, He is the real meaning of Christmas. Jesus is the Truth of Christmas. Jesus was not just human, he was also God and there has never been any need to exaggerate his story. He lived, he died and he lives again, right now, in Heaven and in us here on earth. His story, Jesus story, every part of it is true, not because we believe it, but because it is. Jesus Christ was born in a stable to virgin on a night long, long ago. And that little baby is the Savior of the world. That is the Truth of Christmas. And that is all you need to believe.
So from my family to yours… we all wish you a very Merry Christmas!