Any number of things may light up that part of our brains that stores memories of Christmas past. For some it may be the taste of a special recipe cookie. Others may lean toward that first aroma of a special blend of coffee. Some memories are triggered by sight. Seeing Christmas décor, stockings, or even ugly sweaters can throw our minds into a whirlwind of remembrance.
While all of those things have ability to remind us, nothing does so for me more powefully than music. Hearing familiar strains of Christmas songs that speak of our Savior’s coming…. “What Child is This,” or “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” ….can sometimes bring me to tears. And listening to the opening refrain and overture of Handel’s majestic and inspired oratorio “Messiah” transports me to one of the gifts my father left me- a love for this Biblically-grounded masterpiece.
These memories are not without importance. They connect us to a past that, while idealized, still lives within us. We need to be able to answer two important questions in life: Where we came from, and where we are going. We are looking for the answer to the first when we revisit the past.
Interestingly, Christmas answers both. We find our Creator at the beginning of the Christmas story. He was the One Who made us, and the One Who came personally to redeem and restore us…”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God!” And we find our future on the other side of the empty tomb. Because of the babe Who came at Christmas to reconcile God and sinner, we have a future that is secure and a past that is redeemed.
Charles Wesley has contributed much to our understanding of Christmas through the familiar words of “Hark, the Herald Angel Sings.” The first stanza captures for us the why of Christmas:
God and sinners…. reconciled.
In another hymn found in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote;
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man,
the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)
Our Redeemer has come. Our Savior is born. And now, we can have peace with God as we are reconciled…. made one…with Him.
No wonder the angels sang!
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:12)
REFLECTION: Which memory of Christmas is most important to you? Why?