What Christmas Is All About

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

[Luke 2:8-14]

sc147.jpg

Jacopo Bassano, The Annunciation to the Shepherds, Italian, c. 1510 – 1592, probably 1555/1560, oil on canvas, Samuel H. Kress Collection.

Since I wasn’t raised in a family that went to church, most of my early memories of Christmas are of decorating the tree and receiving presents. But I first learned it was something more when we watched the cartoon, Charlie Brown’s Christmas. When Charlie Brown yells, “Doesn’t anyone know what Christmas is all about?” Linus says, “I can tell you,” and quotes Luke 2:8-14. As I grew up, every time I would hear this passage, the spirit of the Lord grew within me. When I turned 18, I was baptized and began my faith journey.

So for me, this passage is not only a beautiful story, but also the beginning of my faith journey. For the past ten years, I have been blessed to teach preschoolers, and every Christmas our 4-year-olds recite the story of Jesus’s birth. And each time I thrill to see the Spirit present in the faces and voices of the children. This is when I know Christmas is near.

Listen:

“There were shepherds abiding in the fields”
from “Messiah”, George Frideric Handel
Performed by Helen-Jane Howells

“Glory to God in the highest”
from “Messiah”, George Frideric Handel
Performed by Tafelmusik

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