The Christmas story is about the true meaning of the Christmas spirit through ideals such as sharing, generosity and gift giving. It's a time of happiness and excitement for all, especially the children who look forward for the arrival of Father Christmas (Santa Claus). It's about the bonds of family and, all about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
To celebrate and enjoy the season, one should remember its origins because the real Christmas story is found in the Holy Bible with the Birth of Jesus Christ. God gave the Birth of Jesus as a Gift to humanity on that First Christmas, over 2,000 years ago. The Child, Born that night over two thousand years ago, is the Light of the World, King of Kings and the Son of God.
CHRISTMAS STORY BEGINS WITH THE BIRTH OF JESUS
The Christmas Story, of Angels and Mary, a young Jewish girl from Galilee who gave Birth to a King in a humble stable, the simple, hard-working shepherds who came to adore Jesus, the bright Star of Bethlehem and the Wise Men who followed it bearing gifts makes the festive season special because the Birth was a miracle and, it gave the world a Savior.
The Birth of Jesus begins with a reference to Caesar Augustus, Emperor of the powerful, Roman Empire and, of Jesus, a Jewish, Baby Boy Born into poverty. The contrast couldn't be greater.
"And so it came to pass in those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went to register with Mary who also, was a descendent of King David and of the tribe of Judah. Mary was expecting a Child. While there, the time came for the Baby to be Born."
Mary and Joseph had traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Joseph's ancestral home on a humble donkey to find no room at the inn.
Shepherds are a part of the Christmas story. Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were shepherds in Bible History. So was David who became a king. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd Who came to shepherd God's people to greener pastures so we can inherit the Kingdom of God.
The joyous event of the Birth of Jesus was announced by an Angel to lowly shepherds.
"And there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. And the Angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." ( LUKE 2:1-14)
THE WISE MEN AND THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM
The bright Star of Bethlehem revealed the Birth to the Gentile (non-Jewish), Wise Men who came to bow before Him to acknowledge His Deity and worship the newborn King. They gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The shepherds brought their faith.
The Gentiles later, would make up most of the Christian world because, from that foundation, Christianity grew, sending off branches in many directions from ancient Jerusalem.
THE HUMBLE STABLE
God chose for His Son to be born in a humble stable, and placed in an animal feeding-trough for a Crib surrounded by farm animals. Jesus came into this world in humility, simplicity and in poverty to identify with the poor, and the down-trodden. And, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is a wonderful example of humility, courage, faith and willingness to do God's Will.
That humble stable was filled with the Presence of God. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior, God gave us a way to inherit the Heavenly, Kingdom of God.
Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, taught people to love God, to love their neighbor and fellow-man, to treat other people as they themselves wish to be treated. He preached equality, care for the weak and needy, He fought sin, yet He did not despise sinful people. He was willing to forgive and to heal and He taught that repentance and faith could save people. The Apostles and other early Christians went everywhere carrying the Message of Jesus and the Word of God to all continents and all peoples.
THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS
The Christmas story embodies many wonderful qualities that can be felt and seen everywhere with its wonderful old customs and feasting, making everything more beautiful and cheerful.
For many children around the world, it is a time for gifts when Father Christmas arrives on a sleigh pulled by reindeer in the early hours of Christmas morning placing presents in stockings, by their beds or in front of the family Christmas tree.
The twelve day festive holiday begins Christmas Eve until Epiphany in the New Year which falls on the 6th of January. However, from November onwards, the Christmas spirit can be felt and seen everywhere with its wonderful traditions of gift giving, its beautiful Christmas Carols, Nativity scenes, Christmas trees with all their glitter and tinsel and, Christmas Day, when the family will gather to celebrate their much-loved, Christmas traditions and customs with those they love.
Most places of work will hold Christmas parties, homes, shops, business offices, streets and town centers are decorated in their Christmas glitter and, shopping centers become busier with people buying gifts as they play the traditional Christmas Carols throughout the day.
CHRISTMAS CAROLS ARE A PART OF THE CHRISTMAS STORY
Christmas Carols are a part of the Christmas story. Their heart-warming spirit of Christmas messages of praise and joy, make everyone feel the Christmas spirit and have a special place in the hearts of young and old.
From the religious to the secular, they express the joyful and merry sounds of everything that the Christmas story stands for. They are sung in church and at home with family and friends, going door-to-door in small groups or, out in the street, to spread the spirit of Christmas and to raise money for charities.
Some of the most beautiful and best-loved religious, Christmas Carols like Silent Night, O Holy Night, Away in a Manger, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, The First Noel and Little Drummer Boy are songs of praise for the Birth of Jesus. Secular Christmas Carols like Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and Frosty the Snowman spread their spirit of Christmas cheer with their wondrous warmth.
One of the most famous Christmas Carols of all time, Silent Night is a song that is beautiful and yet, so powerful, it touches people with its simple Christian message of heavenly peace. Written by Father Joseph Mohr in 1816 its music was added by choir director, Franz Xavier Gruber in 1818.
In the small, alpine, village church of Saint Nicholas in Oberndorf, Austria, this timeless classic was heard for the first time as Father, Joseph Mohr and Franz Xavier Gruber, accompanied by the choir and a guitar, sang "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! (Silent Night, Holy Night).
From here, this timeless Christmas story classic Silent went on to have such an impact around the world that it has now been translated into over 44 languages.
It even caused a World War One battle to temporarily cease, as British, French and German soldiers sang of heavenly peace from their trenches on Christmas Eve. It was one of the few carols that soldiers on both sides of the front line knew.
The Christmas story provides spiritual gifts.Deep within the heart, is a recognition that there is something more to this life and beyond, that only God can satisfy. It brings comfort, reassurance, strength, inspiration and a sense of connection to something much greater than we could ever imagine. Faith in God and Jesus manifests a Christian spirit in all we do.
THE SPIRIT OF GIVING
The Wise Men remind us that Christmas is a time for giving. It is a time for peace and goodwill to all as we look forward to the joy of the season.
Comfort and Joy is a phrase linked to the Christmas story. Sadly, there are people who face hardship, sorrow and pain in their earthly lives. So, Christmas is a time to understand the true spirit of what is meant by "its better to give than to receive" because, gifts from the heart are a part of the Christmas story.
A giving, generous heart, filled with compassion, should be a way of life. We are living out the Vision of God and, we follow in the Footsteps of Jesus by giving generously to those less fortunate in any way we can, without asking for reward. The joy you give to others, is the joy that comes back to you.
It's hard to imagine celebrating Christmas without giving gifts to family, friends and charities. Gift giving also, conveys the true spirit of Christmas as special, symbolic expressions of love, respect, gratitude, friendship and charity.
The Christmas Story begins with the wonderful Gift of Jesus Christ to mankind. The Three Wise Men gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and the shepherds brought their faith. Santa Claus symbolizes this spirit of gift giving and, we identify him with Saint Nicholas with his good deeds and charitable gifts.
A THANKFUL HEART
A grateful heart strengthens the soul. "Be thankful unto Him, and bless His Name, for the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations." (Psalm 100:4-5). A thankful heart will reap an abundant harvest in God's blessings. Christmas is a time to be thankful for what we have and to say, "May God bless everyone".
THE BONDS OF FAMILY
Christmas has certainly always been about the bonds of family as they gather around on Christmas Day to celebrate it's rich Christmas customs and traditions.
Christmas Day is marked by church services and the traditional, Christmas table spread out before us where we can all sit down together with the family to enjoy a Christmas feast that brings joy and happiness to every heart.
On the beautifully decorated Christmas table, there may be traditional roasted meats like turkey, duck or goose, leg of ham and, mouth-watering accompaniments like seasonal vegetables and salads. There may be traditional Christmas pudding, enticing deserts and Christmas biscuits. The festive Christmas table is sure to please, as we celebrate the true spirit of the Christmas story, on this special day, the Birth of our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
CHRISTMAS STORY-INSPIRATIONAL STORIES OF CHRISTMAS
IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS
Santa Claus (Father Christmas) is a part of the Christmas Story. For many children around the world, Christmas is exciting because it's a time for gifts. Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun.
"Dear Editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, If you see it in THE SUN it's so. Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?"
Newsman Francis Church wrote THE SUN'S response to Virginia on September 21, 1897. It has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial.
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."
SAINT BEHIND THE CHRISTMAS STORY OF SANTA CLAUS
Father Christmas (Santa Claus) is identified with Saint Nicholas, the historical Bishop of Myra. He was born about 270 AD in Patara, Asia Minor, when the region was Greek in its heritage and culture but, under Roman occupation. Born to wealthy parents, he used his inheritance to assist the needy and dedicated his life to serving God.
There are many stories of his good deeds and generous gifts. The best known story involves a pious Christian with three daughters and not enough money to provide them with dowries. This meant they could not marry and were likely to end up as women of the streets. Nicholas walked by the man's house on three successive nights and each time threw a bag of gold through the window thus saving them from a life of shame.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Charles Dickens 1843 classic Christmas story masterpiece, A Christmas Carol is a tale of human redemption and spiritual transformation. This Christmas story takes place in Victorian England during the Industrial Revolution and deals with the gap between rich and poor and with social injustice. Ebenezer Scrooge, the principle character is a rich, cold-hearted, old miser who despises Christmas and has only disgust for the poor, thinking the world would be better off without them, "decreasing the surplus population."
Scrooge's selfish nature is contrasted with his good-hearted, nephew Fred, who radiates the joy of the Christmas spirit and refuses to let his uncle's "Bah! Humbug!" attitude bring him down. Bob Cratchit, is the underpaid and overworked clerk of Scrooge. He and his youngest son, the frail and crippled Tiny Tim, symbolize the overwhelming goodness of the Christmas spirit.
On Christmas Eve, four ghosts visit Scrooge to show him the error of his ways. The ghost of his friend and business partner Jacob Marley, is the first to appear and attempts to save his friend's soul by warning him of the suffering awaiting him if he does not change. Marley's ghost is damned to walk the Earth for eternity, bound by the heavy chains he "forged in life," from selfishness and greed.
Three other ghosts take the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey, each, revealing scenes from his past, present and future. He experiences remorse with the Spirit of Christmas Past, repentance with the Spirit of Christmas Present and redemption with the Spirit of Christmas Future making the final transformation from a cold, unfeeling miser to one of warmth, compassion and filled with the Christmas spirit.
Scrooge is a changed man. He wakes up to find it is Christmas Day and that he is able to right the wrongs of his past and present. He sets out to help his nephew Fred, the Cratchit family and, especially Tiny Tim who is in need of medical attention. And, he begins to give generously to charitable causes. At the family Christmas dinner, Bob Cratchit offers a blessing. "A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us." "God bless us every one! said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
The Christmas story never ends. It remains in the hearts and minds of those who have the Christmas spirit forever.