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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Storytime Sunday: Christmas

What a perfect day for Storytime Sunday! This is the day we celebrate the beginning of the best story ever told. The day Jesus was born. There are plenty of children’s books that tell the story and I’m sure you can find them easily by searching, so I am going to talk about a couple of things from church this morning that I thought you might find interesting.

First, we sang the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Here are the words:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.’

Til ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I learned today that the song is from a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow after his wife had died in an accidental fire and his son was severely wounded in battle. I love that after he talks about how hate is so strong, which it’s difficult not to see in the world, that he says the bells got more loud and deep and how the world revolved from night to day and how wrong shall fail and right prevail. This song encourages me that there is hope in the world, no matter how bad things seem to get, if you only trust in Jesus, the Savior. Have you ever felt like you encountered some kind of a sign or a feeling that gave you hope or made or think things were going to get better or be ok? I just think of the star on that Christmas night and what Mary must have felt. She must have had so much faith in God to trust that everything was going to be ok. It’s like in the song, when all of a sudden the bells sounded so much louder and clearer that they had a meaning and purpose if only to the writer of the song.

I also like a couple of things that were in the bulletin. The first is some Christmas reminders. You always hear at Christmas time, you need to keep CHRIST in Christmas, but with all the hustle and bustle this time of year, it is sometimes difficult to know how to do it. I think keeping the spirit of Christmas is not something that takes effort, only thinking about what you are doing and why you are doing it. It’s not to say we need to stop doing all of the secular traditions of Christmas, but to think of the reason why the tradition came about. Here are some ideas:

  • May the Christmas gifts remind you of God’s greatest gift, His only begotten Son.
  • May the Christmas candles remind you of Him who is the “Light of the World.”
  • May the Christmas trees remind you of another tree upon which He died for you.
  • May the Christmas cheer remind you of Him who said “Be of good cheer.”
  • May the Christmas bells remind you of the glorious proclamation of His birth.
  • May the Christmas carols remind you of the song the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest.”
  • May the Christmas season remind you in every way of Jesus Christ your King.

And finally some definitions of Christmas:

  • Christmas is the light that burns eternally. It is a glow that warms the hearts of people wherever the message of “Peace on earth to men of goodwill” is believed.
  • Christmas is peace in a world where people have been alienated from each other by hatred and jealousy.
  • Christmas is love that flows from one heart to another.
  • Christmas is the joy of brotherhood, of giving, of sharing, of lifting, of caring, and of being what Christ wants us to be.
  • Christmas is forgiveness, the time for fresh beginnings, a time to right the wrongs of yesterday.
  • Christmas is giving to those who cannot give to us. It is visiting the neglected, lifting the fallen, giving hope to the hopeless, assuring victory to the defeated, living the spirit of goodwill to all mankind.
  • Christmas is surrender of one’s life to Christ in renewed dedication, making Christ the Lord of our lives.