I have noticed in recent years how radio stations seem to be playing less of the traditional Christmas songs celebrating the birth of Jesus. No problem if listeners want to hear Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” or Gene Autry’s “Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer.” However, if one wants to hear “Joy to the World” or “O Holy Night,” for the most part one has to turn to a Christian station. It hasn’t always been that way.
When I was about eight-years-old mom and dad bought a new Motorola stereo console (I realize some younger generation readers have no idea what a stereo console looked like, much less what it would do). During the Christmas season mom would turn to one of those brand new FM stations that would play a mixture of secular and sacred Christmas music. I recall as a child playing in the floor with some toys while mom cleaned house or cooked supper singing her heart out to the various Christmas carols. The sound of her soprano voice still resonates in my mind. Her mere presence with her added singing provided joy and a sense of warmth and security. Being the oldest of three children, I was blessed to be the first born. So I got mom’s full attention for the first seven years of my life. I am grateful to dad for sacrificing so mom did not have to work and could stay home with me. Those were among the happiest days of my life. It was just mom and me – and those Christmas carols.
Just like us all, she had her favorites. They became mine, too. Mom and Dad would occasionally spot a Christmas record album that contained some of their most cherished tunes. While they would allow David Seville and the Chipmunks, they always made sure the stack of albums to play on the stereo console included albums with songs like “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” and one of mom’s favorites, “Silent Night.”
My little mind did not realize it, but this mixture of secular and sacred music had a purpose. While toys and plenty to eat were always a part of our Christmas, the sacred Christmas hymns were an artful way for Mom and Dad to keep the real meaning of Christmas before us. As parents, they had fun with Santa Claus, but they also taught me that Santa cannot be preeminent during Christmas. That honor belongs only to the Christ child.
Now, 50 years later, I am still in awe at the blessed wonder of the incarnation. How could a great and holy God willingly come to earth in the person of Jesus to experience ridicule and physical suffering just to save a wretched, sinful worm like me? The answer is in I John 4:10: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
That is, God came in the person of Jesus Christ, who became an acceptable sacrifice for my sin. So amid all the Christmas music, gifts, delicious treats and colorful decorations, that is the most important thing to remember. That is why Christmas is so special. Christ did for me what I could never do for myself … saved me from my sins and restored me to a wonderful, personal relationship with Him. That is the greatest Christmas gift of all.
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On June 8, The Pathway will be 10 years old. As I think back over the many trials, tribulations and jubilations we have experienced here at the paper, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness and love. I am grateful to God for allowing me to serve Him as The Pathway’s editor since its creation. I am grateful to The Pathway staff who have worked so diligently in 2011 to bring you The Pathway every two weeks right on time. And, I am grateful to you, the Pathway readers, who now stretch around the world. God bless you and Merry Christmas!
DON HINKLE / editor