Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tidings of Great Joy

"Multitudes are blessed by
Christmas who are not yet
ready to acknowledge Him
from whom all blessing
come."
      There is a tendency at Christmas to dwell upon externals and to miss the true, deep meaning of the day. We look upon it as a holiday, as a time for giving and receiving presents. Christmas is the great festival of the home, and in this aspect it is observed by Jews and non-believers and thousands of others besides Christians. This is one of the indirect and beneficent effects of Christmas--that it leavens the entire community with the spirit of love and good will. You see the throngs upon the streets, the crush in the great stores, the people planning glad surprises for one another, and bearing mysterious parcels whose unwrapping is to bring a glow of joy into some fellow-creature's heart, or cause the merry shouts of children to rise on  Christmas morning. Multitudes are blessed by Christmas who are not yet ready to acknowledge Him from whom all the blessings come. There is this danger: To be absorbed in the outward splendor and merry making of Christmas and not to penetrate to the great truth which gives an eternal meaning to all the festivities of this day.
      Also, when we think of it as a religious festival our thoughts are occupied with its externals. We picture the manger and the Virgin mother; we sing of the angles and the shepherds watching their flocks by night. We join in the hymns or listen to the great Christmas anthem and say "How sweet! How beautiful!" and pay little heed to the meaning of the the words we use.
      Now, leaving externals alone, going down deeper than Christmas trees and music and present-making and home reunions and grand anthems, what is the great truth of Christmas?
      It is the incarnation. We stand face to face with this sublime fact that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Man had known something about God: by the incarnation he knew God. In the incarnation God himself came and dwelt with man. God revealed himself to man in the person of Jesus Christ.
      Look upon the infant Jesus cradled in the Virgin's arms. He is the link between earth and heaven. In him god and man are joined as one.
      This is the meaning of Christmas. Did not the angels rightly call it "glad tidings of great joy"? Hear the good news, then. Listen to the glad tidings! You are the child of God: you are not left to parish here in this world of death and sin. You are destined for immortality. Carry the news to the heartsick and the suffering.
      Christmas also means that God has spoken. His tone and final word has been uttered in Jesus Christ. Is not this great news? From the beginning God has been revealing himself to man as fast as man could receive him. All truth is from God, as all light is from the sun. He spoke through many men in many places in broken utterances. Now he has uttered himself once for all in his son. Every word and deed of Jesus is the infallible revelation of the eternal God.
      Therefore we cry "Good news!" The tabernacle of God is with men. Good  news! God is saving the world and blessing men whether they acknowledge him or not. Good news! God has not left any soul in perfect darkness. Good news! God is light, God is life, God is love. Good news!

God's in his heaven--
All's right with the world.

W. H. Moreland, Bishop Sacramento, Diocese, P. E. Church, 1898. Visit the home of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California Today.

And the angel said unto them, 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 a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

Preschool and kindergarteners sing a new, touching Christmas carol by Chris Rice called, "Welcome to Our World."

No comments:

Post a Comment