When I was a child, “Happy Holidays” didn’t exist. It was either Happy Christmas, Merry Christmas, or Season’s greetings. Nativity plays were the norm in every school, at least in the land of my birth and ‘Carols by candlelight’ was a vital part of the lead up to Christmas Day itself.  Blankets and chairs in hand, the whole family would gather with hundreds of others on some grassy slope and sing their hearts out, and the youth of the church would go out to serenade the lonely and housebound in the community. It was common for the Stable Story to be in life-sized display in public places, and somehow, Christ was the center of it all. Even non-Christians could sing ‘Silent Night’  and’ Hark the Herald Angels Sing’😊. All these memories are precious to me, so you can imagine my heart when I heard some fellow Christians (!) dismissing the singing of carols as outdated relics of ancient tradition, and who could not name even one of these treasures of our Chistian heritage!

Nowadays, even though ‘Happy Holidays’ has become the greeting of choice (lest we offend someone by putting the Christ child at the center of it all), I find myself deliberately taking time with the greetings I share. The stable door opened and revealed to the whole wide world a nativity scene that endures to this day. When I say ‘May you be blessed by the sense of His Presence this Christmas’ they are not just words. They come from a heart that, like yours, longs for a hurting, broken world to get to know Emmanuel, God with us – forevermore!  

Thank God He did not remain a baby in a crude crib meant for animal fodder, but we rejoice that He grew in stature with man and God, that He lived and moved with compassionate kindness among the people who needed Him most, until one day, a wicked, cruel world put a stop to it and sent Him to his death.

But ‘Glory be to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill to all men!’ Death could not hold Him, and He lives today in every heart that finds hope and healing in Him. Like the angel song that split the air on that hillside outside Bethlehem, this message rings out from the empty tomb – ‘I was dead, but behold, I am alive for evermore!....Behold, I come quickly; …. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.’

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all a very blessed Christmas, filled with worship and laughter, and the love of friends and family.