Friday, December 23, 2011

A Holiday Tradition

Call me sentimental but I love Christmas -- the lights, the decorations, the carols, and the general feeling of celebration.  Most of all, I love reading or hearing the Christmas story, not in modern English, or in a paraphrase, but in the language of King James in which I first heard it as a child.  

When I was a child and young teen, the annual reading of the Christmas story was something of a family tradition.  My mother would open her Bible and begin reading with the words "Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus" and continuing through a journey to Bethlehem where we learn that "the days were accomplished" that Mary, "being great with child" "should be delivered".  "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, for there was no room for them in the inn." 

The picture is both wonderful and poignant -- the young couple, unable to find a room, the days being accomplished, and the birth of a son who, regardless of circumstance, was properly cared for, wrapped up and laid in the only suitable bed available.    

Next we see a band of shepherds "abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night" on a night that promised to be the same as any other.  We read that an angel of the Lord appeared and they were "sore afraid".  But the angel said "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the City of David, as savior who is Christ, the Lord." 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, good will to men."

A child? A savior? Peace? On earth? Good will to men? What is this?  The shepherds were curious and "went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger."

That is the story. 

Reading or hearing it on Christmas Eve is a family tradition.

What are your family's holiday traditions? 

How will you claim the promise of peace on earth and good will to men?