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Friday, May 27, 2016

Pastor's Column for Friday, Dec. 14

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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The True Meaning of Christmas

"Teach a child how he should live, and he will remember it all his life." Proverbs 22:6 "If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea." Mark 9:42.

Does it seem like as the years go by, we seem to be losing more and more focus on what Christmas is all about. Why? Well, over the last 10 to 15 years it has gotten really commercialized. Stores and businesses continue to come up with more and more things for us to buy. Especially in the electronic field. Electronic devices that we bought last year are already outdated and the devices we buy this year will be outdated by Christmas next year. Then there are the decorations we get for the tree, house and yard. Then there are the Christmas parties and social activities to attend. There are so many things going on in a short period of time that we tend to lose focus on the real reason for the season and the sad part of it is that our children observe all this. Would you believe that some children don't know what the real reason, is they think that it all centers around a chubby guy in a red suit who we call Santa Clause. If he was real, what do you think he would say about all this? Well, I think it would probably go something like this....

I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree.

"What are you doing?" I started to ask. The words choked up in my throat and I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know. He then answered me with a simple statement...

"TEACH THE CHILDREN!" I was puzzled. What did he mean? He anticipated my question and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that nowadays Christmas has forgotten." Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a Fir Tree and placed it before the mantle. "Teach them that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise." He then pulled out a candle. "Teach the children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness."

Once again he reached into his bag and removed a wreath and placed it on the tree. "Teach them that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection." He then pulled out an ornament of himself. "Teach them that I, Santa Clause, symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December."

He then brought out a holly leaf. "Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. it represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent the blood shed by Him. Next he pulled out a gift and said, "Teach them that God so loved the world that he gave his begotten son. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift." Santa then pulled out a candy cane and hung it on the tree. "Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherds' crook. The crook on the staff help to bring back strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper."

He reached in again and pulled out an angel. "Teach the children that it was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men." Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a bell. "Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring mankind to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return."

Santa looked back at me and was pleased and I saw that the twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, "Remember, teach the children the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, our Lord, our God, our Savior."

This is what Christmas is all about. A few years ago I saw a nativity scene in someone's front yard and just a few feet away and to the side was Santa and Rudolph on their knees bowing their heads and I thought, wow, that speaks volumes. So while we are busy running this way and that way, take a moment to teach the children that Christmas is Jesus Christ's birthday. Many years ago we started a tradition in our family at Christmas time and we still do it today. Before anyone is allowed to open any presents, we gather around in front of the Christmas tree and sing happy birthday to Jesus so He is not left out of the occasion.

You know, Jesus really doesn't care about the fancy gifts we give or the decorations we put out, what makes Him happy is when we share the love, joy and happiness with others that He has shared with us and also helping those in need. There are several organizations this time of year that help those in need and one of them that I have been involved in for a long time is the 'Salvation Army'. My wife and I along with some friends will be ringing the bell at Walmart. Approximately 85 percent of the money that is collected will stay in Marshall to help those in need locally throughout the year. Spreading love, joy and happiness is 'The true meaning of Christmas' and it's not to be done just for one day, a week or month out of the year but for the whole year. So please, 'teach the children' the true meaning of Christmas. Just remember, they are our future. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

David Sitzes

Westport Church