It's Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Andy Williams croons that “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” And he's right. If you watched our family videos (which I can’t because we no longer own a working VHS player), you’d think that Christmas was the only time of the year; most of our videos are of Christmas morning. I have a lot of memories wrapped up in this season. December 30 will mark the 33rd anniversary of our wedding. January 1 is the 45th anniversary of Arkansas’ Cotton Bowl win over Nebraska that gave them national championship. And December 25th 29th anniversary of the birth of my oldest daughter... and I think also that 29th anniversary of the last time we had a white Christmas.

For the record, Christmas is very different when you have had a Christmas baby. The Christmas she was born sure was different (she was delivered to "Jingle Bells" playing in the background).  Of course, being a Christmas  baby born in a Catholic hospital gets you some special perks!  Celebrating Christmas birthdays is a lot of trouble as you must make sure that you separate the two celebrations. For example, fruit cake cannot be used as a birthday cake! Also, you can’t combine the gifts; birthday presents must stay “separate and apart.” And under no circumstances may you wrap a birthday present in Christmas paper! That would be the worst form of bad form!

Christmas birthdays are complicated.  But then, Jesus’ birthday was complicated as well. Sure, I know that Jesus was likely not born on December 25. It was only several accidents of history that selected this date as the day set aside to remember Jesus’ birth. But like many who were born on December 25, there was little about Jesus’ birth that was ordinary.

  • He was conceived by God and born of a virgin—that’s pretty rare
  • He was born in a barn and laid in a feed trough—that’s rare as well
  • And what other baby gets gold, frankincense and myrrh at their shower?

And then there was the unusual manner of how the birth announcement was handled. Usually, new mothers send out birth announcements. After all, new mothers don’t have anything else to do. But this time, the Father handled the birth announcement (see Luke 2:8-14).

Angels brought to the shepherds "good news of great joy." That is an interesting choice of words. In fact, the angels use one of the most familiar words in all the Bible— the word "euagglelizo." Or as that word is generally translated-- "gospel." What the angel literally said to the shepherds was, "I preach to you a gospel of great joy." The birth of Jesus is gospel! God had come into the world. That little baby in the manger was Immanuel, "God with us." In all the hype and hustle and hoopla of this season, don’t forget the gospel that God is with us.  He came to be with us then; He remains with us today.  That is good news indeed.