Luke 2:6-7 – 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 room for them in the inn. (NIV)
"Was that all?" my friend asked, and, from the tone of her voice, I knew that she was trying to picture a Christmas where the only decorations in the home consisted of a six-inch tree and two handmade candleholders.
"That was all," I assured her, pointing to the small tree that is now part of the Christmas scene in my miniature dollhouse. We were discussing memories of Christmases in our past, and I'd been telling her of my first Christmas as a guest in my husband's home. His mother and father had moved into their apartment only a few weeks prior to Christmas, and, when I visited, most of their furniture was still in transit from their former home in Scotland.
Later, when I recalled our conversation and her question, "Is that all?" I thought of the other things I had found in that home. Although the apartment was devoid of most of the paraphernalia that we have come to expect in our homes, we still celebrated a wonderful Christmas. I remembered the carols we sang while my future father-in-law played his concertina, and the delicious food we shared. But more important than any of these recollections was the memory that all of our celebrations focused on the birth of Christ.
Over two thousand years ago, Mary and Joseph were also newcomers to their town, Bethlehem. While they were there, they celebrated the first Christmas, not with thousands of decorations, but with simplicity, just a brilliant star, an angel chorus, and a beautiful nativity scene. That Christmas brought God's gift, Jesus Christ, to our world, and, ever since that day, Christians everywhere have been celebrating His birth. Perhaps this year would be a good time to remind us that the best Christmas of all was celebrated with simplicity.
Prayer: Dear God, as we anticipate and await the arrival of Christmas 2003, help us to prepare our hearts, and to remember that it isn't the volume of decorations that make Christmas; it's the things that we do to honour the birth of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.