Christmas in Black and White

santaSeveral years ago Phillip Bump wrote an article for The Atlantic that examined the Christmas Eve workload of the jolly old elf.  Using data from the CIA, Bump focused his article on Santa’s deliveries to the world’s 526,000,000 Christian kids 14 years of age and younger.

To get a present to all of these kids, Bump determined that Santa would need to deliver presents at a rate of 22 million kids an hour for the 24 hours of Christmas Eve. If you run the figures on your calculator, you’ll find that equates to 365,000 kids a minute or about 6,100 a second.  Not to worry though, we are talking about Santa.

Do you remember your perceptions of Christmas and Santa when you were a child?  Did your eager anticipation of Christmas consume you?

I remember how quickly I would hurry home after school, so I could watch Santa’s Workshop in black and white on an old TV.  The days from Thanksgiving to Christmas would pass by with the agonizing speed of a turtle.

As a child, I thought Christmas would never come; and, truthfully, I gave very little thought to its significance.  The desire that I had for the brightly wrapped gifts carefully placed beneath the bright lights and icicles hanging on the Christmas tree, had little to do with the Christ of Christmas.

So, what is Christmas?  It certainly isn’t big box stores opening on Thanksgiving Day, or the pushing, shoving, and elbowing of frenzied shopping.  Christmas is the birth of Hope.  It is a time to step away from the hustle and bustle of the mobs and the malls to find a moment of solitude to reflect on the miracle of the manger.

Christmas is that day long ago when Jesus stepped down from the glories of heaven to be born in a lowly manger; to live a sinless life; to die the death of the cross; to rise again on the third day; and to return to heaven to intercede on our behalf.

The essence of that babe from Bethlehem is summarized by Paul in the colorful language of I Timothy 3:16:

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:  Jesus appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

May you have a Merry Christmas is my wish for you.

What Did Mary Know?

Have you ever taken a moment to consider the momentous thoughts of Mary? I have, and I do, whenever I read  Luke 2: “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

When Mary pondered the magnitude of the angelic message, and the adoring words of the shepherds,  did she fully comprehend the magnificent meaning of that first Christmas?

When she gazed into the eyes of her innocent son, could she mentally grasp what she would emotionally gasp 30 years later when he took on the sin of the world?

How could she know that the son nurtured in her womb would have such a significant future and manifest awesome and miraculous power over creation?  Did Mary have an aha moment when Jesus changed the water into wine at the marriage supper at Cana?

Was she pleasingly puzzled when her son had a leg up on the religious charlatans of the day and healed the legs of a crippled man?

When Mary saw a crowd of hungry faces suddenly satisfied by a sack lunch that was multiplied 5,000 times, did she realize that her son could also satisfy the spiritual hunger of the world?

When her son of a carpenter was dying an excruciating death on a wooden cross, did her anguish confound her comprehension of God’s ultimate plan?

How fast did her heart beat when she heard that her three-days-dead son had removed his grave clothes, rolled away a massive stone, run off a squad of soldiers, and then became the resurrection and life to all who would believe?

There are some things that I ponder in my heart:
• How could Jesus understand everything, but be misunderstood by most everyone?
• Who was his best childhood friend? Could it have been a boy named Barabbas or Judas?
• What did he and his cousin John (later called the Baptist) talk about?
• Did his brothers and sisters see him as unique or annoyingly odd?

I wonder, Mary Did You Know?