To the Point for 12/22/2005

6

MERRY CHRISTMAS. This Sunday our country will celebrate Christmas. It is the culmination of several weeks of hectic shopping and parties and other celebrations. It is a time when we exchange gifts and visit relatives and eat way too many sweets — which gives us an excuse to make a resolution about a week later.

Lately there has been a hot debate about how people address this holiday. Store employees are taught to say “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” and in some cases are instructed to stay away from “Merry Christmas” for fear that someone will be offended.

Christmas is a specific holiday, just like Labor Day and Veterans Day, in terms of how our country officially designates it; but for millions of people around this country, it is much, much more than that.

Whether the American Civil Liberties Union likes it or not, December 25th is a day that is set aside to acknowledge and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Over the years people have created all sorts of lore and tradition to surround it; but at the core of December 25th is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and that’s worth celebrating.

Whether you’re religious or not; this Sunday is a special day. It transcends every other day of the year; and when it slips into the night; we will each find ourselves looking ahead to when we get to celebrate it again a year from now.

I make my living conveying feelings in words that I hope that you can appreciate and that you will think about after you finish reading them. Just a few days from Christmas, I think that there are more important words to share with you in this space, words that I can’t possibly hope to write; but words that I believe and cleave to in my very soul.

The writer of these words was a man named Luke, a physician of culture who was divinely inspired to write this historical account:

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while there were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

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That is the reason that you will celebrate this season. No other, no matter what others may tell you.

So “Merry Christmas” to you and your family and loved ones; and may you all be filled with the spirit of this time.