Memories of Christmas Day
Published 6:51 am Wednesday, December 27, 2023
For possibly the first time today, a hush has come over the room packed with family members.
Everyone’s eyes are focused and ears attuned to the same thing. Several smartphones and a couple of cameras are lifted as the reader begins to read:
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
It is the sonorous voice of my father, reading The Christmas Story from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2. Though it now issues from a man who is smaller in physical stature than he once was, the voice is strong, and resonates in the chamber inside my sister’s home.
Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. It’s really not important if we are celebrating on the actual anniversary day of His birth — that’s irrelevant. What matters is that we celebrate at all the coming of the world’s Redeemer.
… And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the City of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David); to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
I pull my eyes away from my dad, and glance around the room. My brother’s eyes are misty. My children and nieces are in rapt admiration of both the man and the story he relays. My mother looks both grateful and proud.
I look back at Dad, a.k.a. Poppa, his glasses halfway down his nose, his white hair a cotton crown. His long fingers move down the page as he reads, and the natural storyteller within this lifelong pastor brings the already life-filled passage alive in this moment for all of us listeners.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Later, we’ll share gifts and stories, and then a meal around a couple of long tables placed end-to-end. But none of that matters right now.
… For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
The passage echoes the prophecy in Isaiah 9 — For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His peace and government, there will be no end.
No matter what else happens this Christmas season — no matter the aches, losses and pains of the year behind or the year ahead — all is right, right here, right now.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Brett Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.