|Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations, extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.|
|My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant." I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise. So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in 10 minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song. Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas", I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment, songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love", I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.|
|Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row, center stage, held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing "C is for Christmas", a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy", and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love". The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her, a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down, totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W". The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W". Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood, the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.|
|For when the last letter was held high, the message
read loud and clear:|
CHRIST WAS LOVE.
And, I believe, He still is.
|There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge that won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?|
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.
The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtledoves were the Old and New Testaments
Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, & John.
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law
The first five books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit-Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.
So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol...
|An interesting prayer was given recently in Kansas at the opening session of their Senate in 2000. It seems prayer still upsets some people. When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate with a prayer, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:|
|Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your word and call it pluralism." We have worshipped other gods and called it "multiculturalism." We have endorsed perversion and called it "alternative lifestyle." We have exploited the poor and called it "the Lottery." We have rewarded laziness and called it "welfare." We have killed our unborn and called it "choice." We have shot abortionists and called it "justifiable." We have neglected to discipline our children and called it "building self-esteem." We have abused power and called it "politics." We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it "ambition." We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it "freedom of expression." We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it "enlightenment." Amen.|
|The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa, and Korea. Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on "The Rest of the Story" on the radio and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired.|