By Henrylito D. Tacio
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind,” American President Calvin Coolidge once said. “To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
Christmas means different things to different people. Washington Irving said: “Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.” Emily Matthews wrote: “From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another. The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other.”
George Matthew Adams reminds: “Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first.” Augusta E. Rundel quips: “Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance–a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”
Norman Vincent Peale penned: “Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Helen Steiner Rice prayed: “Bless us Lord, this Christmas, with quietness of mind. Teach us to be patient and always to be kind.”
Among Christians, Christmas is the most celebrated — and anticipated — event of the year. As the day of Christ’s natal day is fast approaching, it is but fitting to thoroughly think about what Christmas really means. To some, it may mean feast, food, and lots and lots of eating. To others, it is the time when they have to travel back home to have a grand reunion. To most, Christmas is the time to receive those gifts and bonus. But Christmas is more than these.
To me, Christmas is summed up in the acronym “CHRISTMAS”:
“C” is for the courage of the wise men who defied the order of King Herod. They were instructed to tell him when they had located the Baby. “Go and make a careful inquiry for the Child. When you have found him, report to me…” But instead of reporting back to Herod, the wise men returned home on another way. (Read Matthew 2:7-12)
“H” is for the hymns sang by the angels when Jesus was born. Luke 2:13-14 recorded: “All at once there was with the angel a great company of the heavenly host, singing the praises of God: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom He is pleased.’” Today, Christmas hymns and carols abound, including the classic, “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
“R: is for the response of Joseph. Upon learning the pregnancy of Mary, Joseph, “being a just man, and not willing to disgrace Mary publicly,” he made plans to break the engagement privately. But before he can do so, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him: “Joseph, don’t be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived.”
“I” is for the information brought by angels. “Don’t be afraid!” the angel told the shepherds on the day Jesus was born. “I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David’s town your Savior was born – Christ the Lord! And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
“S” is for the shepherds, the first people to have seen the child Jesus. According to the gospel of Luke an angel of the Lord appeared to them and told them that the Messiah was born. After hearing the good news, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds saw him, they told the couple what the angel had said about the Child. “The shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them” (Luke 2:20).
“T” is for the thanks we need to offer. To me, Jesus is the greatest gift to mankind. He came into this world and died for our sins. By believing on Him as our personal Lord and Savior, we could be with Him in heaven forever (John 3:16). For that, we need to be thankful. The wise men themselves brought gifts: “When they saw the Child with His mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped Him. They brought out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and presented them to Him” (Matthew 2:11).
“M” is for Mary, the physical mother of Jesus. When the angel Gabriel told her that she would be the instrument in bringing Jesus into the world, she simply submitted to God’s will: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” When her cousin, Elizabeth, knew about it, she said these famous words: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” Mary, who was virgin when she became pregnant, responded by exalting: “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46, 47). Mary was the fulfillment of the prophecy in the Old Testament: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son…”
“A” is for the address, where Jesus was born. It was prophesized: “Bethlehem in the land of Judah, you are by no means the least of the leading cities of Judah; for from you will come a leader, who will guide my people Israel.” Bethlehem was the home of Ruth, and 15 miles to the south was Hebron, the home of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Helena, mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire, built the original Church of Nativity in Bethlehem around 330 A.D.
“S” is for the significance of the birth of Jesus. Isaiah 9:6-7 provided this information: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace, there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.”
This, to me, is what Christmas is all about.
By the way, the following item below appeared in a church newsletter and contains some good advice that will help us keep selfishness in check this Christmas:
1. You shall not leave ‘Christ’ out of Christmas, making it ‘Xmas.’ To some, ‘X’ is unknown.
2. You shall prepare your soul for Christmas. Spend not so much on gifts that your soul is forgotten.
3. You shall not let Santa Claus replace Christ, thus robbing the day of its spiritual reality.
4. You shall not burden the shop girl, the mailman, and the merchant with complaints and demands.
5. You shall give yourself with your gift. This will increase its value a hundred fold, and the one who receives it shall treasure it forever.
6. You shall not value gifts received by their cost. Even the least expensive may signify love, and that is more priceless than silver and gold.
7. You shall not neglect the needy. Share your blessings with many who will go hungry and cold if you are generous.
8. You shall not neglect your church. Its services highlight the true meaning of the season.
9. You shall be as a little child. Not until you become in spirit as a little one are you ready to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
10. You shall give your heart to Christ. Let Him be at the top of your Christmas list. Anyone keeping these commandments is sure to have a blessed Christmas.”
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! — ###