Every Christmas season, we are reminded of that famous newspaper article of years past assuring little Virginia that there is a Santa Claus. That was long ago, when Christmas brought with it many long-held traditions and getting through the season was simpler and not so hectic.
Now, every year, it seems that the Christmas decorations go up earlier and earlier. I remember when if they were up at Thanksgiving, they were up early – now we see some before Halloween! And the decorating also seems to be centered more on Santa than on the Christ child!
The stress on families at Christmas seems to be increasing, as well, as they attempt to “keep up with the Joneses.” Children insist on the latest styles and name brands, causing parents to extend themselves financially beyond their means, or to feel guilty or frustrated because they aren’t able to buy all that they would like. All of this certainly takes the joy out of the Christmas season and causes us to wonder, like Virginia, if there is some wonderful person that cares for us.
A recent Time Magazine article reported how many of the stories and people of the Bible are being proven through archeological discoveries. There is one story of interest to us at this time of year that every major character has been identified as having actually lived. It is found in Luke, chapter 2. It is the story of the first Christmas; it tells of the coming of Jesus into the world.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
When you get tired of seeing the decorations, when you get caught in the busyness of the season, when you run out of money before you run out of gifts to buy, and when you find yourself wishing that there really was a Santa Claus who cares about you, remember that story in Luke.
Remember that God cares for you. Remember that Christmas is about Jesus coming to earth to die for you. Remember that there is a Savior.
I would like to improve on the words of the editor who wrote to Virginia and give to you a message of hope for this Christmas season: Yes, America, there is a Savior!
(Originally published, exclusive of Scripture text, December 23, 1995 in the Daily Sentinel, Rome, NY)