Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 15, 2003 Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Clasp Christmas close to your heart as you prepare this year

By Rev. Mark Winther, Walker United Methodist, Howard Lake

This year, clasp Christmas close to you.

Hold it fast in your embrace, so that the billowing fogs of prejudice, disdain, and indifference so sadly prevalent in much of today's thinking, can in no way deprive you of its wonderous beauty.

I am not talking about the commercially accepted concept of Christmas. I am talking about the old-fashioned, almost outmoded concept of the spirit of Christmas.

Suppose you could not afford to buy gifts for your family and friends. Would that deprive you of celebrating Christmas? Is Christmas a mere exchange of gifts?

Were the wise men commercially-minded when they traveled a great distance to bring the finest they possessed to the Christ child, or did they see beyond the visible to the infinite the child symoblized? Did they kneel in homage to a human being or in awe to a vision?

Must today's post-modern culture be permitted to deprive us of the faith upon which christianity has been built? Is faith not a substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen?

Can we afford to cast aside the only power and presence upon which we can rely for safe conduct through a maze of bewildering digressions in the field of the spiritual?

Christmas is an individual matter. To some it may be walking through snow-covered streets to an evening service, with its candlelight dispelling the darkness of human beliefs, its chorus of richly blended voices proclaiming the birth of a Savior.

For some it might be a Christmas oratorio-massed choruses, glorious arias, and a supporting orchestral accompaniment, all combining to erase the pressures of the world as one is enfolded in the joy of the spirit.

For some it might be the happiness of the family drawn together in love of one another and of the special occasion they are celebrating.

Surely nothing can exceed the joy of Christmas when a father and mother and their children and children's children come together to commemorate the birth of Christ with Christmas gifts, a gaily decorated tree, laughter and, above all, a conscious awareness of the real meaning of Christmas.

If you are among those fortunate enough to have Christmas in your heart, take a few seconds on Christmas Eve to step out-of-doors and search the heavens for a star, one that shines more brilliantly than the others.

You will find, as you gaze intently upward, that it makes contact with you. It says, reassuringly, "Be not afraid. All is well. I am the star the wise men followed. I am the star the world will once again hold fast in its embrace because I am the star that leads to the Christ child. Just follow me."

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