By Lynn Jones
The poet wrote, “I love preliminary things–/The tuning up of flutes and strings,/ The little scrolls musicians play,/ The varying keys to feel their way,/ The hum—the hush in which it dies,/ But most of all, to see the curtain rise.”
And I love the preliminary things of Christmas—the music, the programs, the buying of gifts, the tinkle of bells, and the wonderful aromas that fill the air. But most of all, I like to see the curtain rise. I like to see the dawn of Christmas Day. I love the excitement of the morning. I love the looks on the faces of the children. I like to read the Christmas story. I like to go back across the centuries to zero in on a manger that held the baby. I like to think of that first Christmas.
Do you remember how the first letter of the first word in a chapter of an old book often looks? The first letter is large and ornate. It is a work of art, a thing of beauty.
The first Christmas was like that—ornate, beautiful, a masterpiece of God in its simplicity and style. The focal point was the baby in the manger. Nearby, Mary and Joseph were standing with expressions of awe and joy. Shepherds were looking on with rapt attention. And up above, a star pierced the blackness of the night with its brilliance.
What a star! It stood like a beacon in the night. And in a distant land, the Magi saw it and began to follow it on their long journey to see the baby.
In the musical, “The Man of LaMancha,” there is a stirring song entitled, “To Dream the Impossible Dream.” The song has a line which expresses a resolve. It says, “This is my quest, to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.”
We need to make that our quest—to follow the star that swung low over a stable in Bethlehem. There is a deep hunger for such a star to follow in our day. There is a search for meaning and direction in life. People today hunger for a light to follow and will often follow any glimmer of light on the horizon.
Many people today are as confused as a termite in a yo-yo. They have no clear line of direction. They wander this way and that. All that they encounter is emptiness, darkness, and coldness. Christmas gives us a star to follow like the Magi did.
C.S. Lewis wrote about the magical land of Narnia. In describing that land, he said, “It was always winter, but never Christmas.” I thank God that in the middle of every dark winter Christmas always comes. It brings warmth and light to our lives. It gives us direction and joy. Thank God for Christmas!
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.