John 1:14,10-12 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. (NKJV)
Every year, our town has a Candlelight Parade on the first Friday evening in December. Whenever our church enters a float, we try very hard to ensure that we represent the true story of Christmas as the birthday of Christ. This year, at the back of the flatbed trailer, we had Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus lying in a manger, and three wise men, with the sign, "Wise men still seek Him". At the front, there was an area constructed to represent our church, with a congregation seated, and me as the minister. I had a script that I was to read over the loudspeaker, which would explain the Christmas story as we moved along the route.
When the parade started, we became aware that we would be closely followed by a noisy truck representing a national fast food chain, with their mascot perched atop. We had chosen quieter instrumental music. Instead of sitting still, my "congregation" was waving to the crowd, jumping from one side to the other, and shouting at their friends. In the narrow confines of the downtown stores, the noise level was terrific, and I could tell that I was being drowned out. Many in the crowd were paying no attention to our float. But some caught my eye and were listening intently.
I thought to myself, "Isn't this the way it has always been?" The message of Christ has to compete to be heard amid the din of the world's "noise", which usually drowns it out. The message of Christ's birth is passed over, in favour of the more acceptable personage, merchandise, shopping, parties, and eating. A few receive Him, but most do not.
However, here it is Christmas Day. Is there some way we can redeem all the "noise" leading up to it? In these few moments, we have a chance to confess our neglect of Jesus, and to focus humbly on His birth and what that means for us. Maybe we'll have a chance to share this with others today. We could have a white cake with a single candle, and sing, "Happy birthday, dear Jesus!" We could read the Christmas story before we open our presents, and remind everyone that we give to each other because God first gave us the gift of eternal life in Christ. We could pray, thanking God for His gifts. Perhaps we could make a long-distance call to someone who's lonely, in Jesus' name. Maybe these suggestions will spark other, more creative ideas for others.
Prayer: In a few moments of quiet meditation, Lord, we are glad to receive You and honour You again on this anniversary of Your birth. Give us opportunities today to alert others to the true significance of this day. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.