1. Christmas! What a thrill of joy pulsates in the heart of the Christian world when the year comes around to the time in which heaven and earth lent their highest to usher in the crowning event in the progress of mankind.
2. The Babe born in Bethlehem was a gift to the whole world. Though the Hebrew seers had foretold, and the instructors of Israel had fixed the expectation and hope of the Jews upon the deliverer, yet Judea slept when He of whom the Scriptures testified was born. Judea slept, but the Magi from the east, the watching shepherds, and the angels gave welcome to the Christ.
3. Christmas! The word includes in its significance all the joys and possibilities of the God-man. Christmas is the time when angels and men rejoiced together over the coming of the Prince of Peace. The spirit of the season quickened the soul of mankind before the Hebrew prophecies were spoken.
4. On Christmas the sun starts on his journey northward, and the life forces within the earth feel the thrill of his radiant beams. The waiting energies of growth push out and upward, and beneath the cold and the snow, unheralded save to the heart of man, the spring is born.
5. All tribes and nations of earth have their legends concerning a Christmastide. In the fullness of time the dim impulse that reached out and up, groping its way to the light, found its fulfillment in the Christ-man. What wonder that heaven and earth were stirred to anthems of joy at the coming of man into his own!
6. Could it not be well for us to consider individually and collectively the question of how we can observe Christmas in the spirit of its true idea? We have enslaved ourselves with the burden of giving at Christmas. We have lost sight of the real spirit of giving when we spend ourselves and deplete our purses for the sake of conforming to the almost universal custom of exchanging gifts with our friends. It would be much more in conformity with the Christ spirit to use the time in sending out to our friends the joyful thoughts that come spontaneously from the Christ love. The gift is but the symbol of what we desire for our friends.
7. When we identify ourselves with the outside things, the giving is empty and hollow; our friends do not receive much from such gifts, and neither do we. “The gift without the giver is bare.”
8. It is the true spirit of Christmas that we should cultivate in the home. It is not the number or the value of the gifts that makes our little ones happy. Everything depends upon the interest and livingness with which the children enter into the keeping of Christmas.
9. Should we still tell the children the legend of Santa Claus? Every holiday season is for the purpose of emphasi2ing some trait in life, and it is natural that a continued observance of the season should develop the idea of a ruling genius. Christmas is the celebration of unselfishness, and giving expresses unselfishness; therefore it was inevitable that the Christmas idea should focus on a patron of childhood, some character who should stand for the providing love that delights in making the little ones glad.
10. Nothing could be more marvelous—and more unbelievable to the literal minded—than the Bible account of the birth of Jesus. The star, the angels singing, the shepherds, the wise men traveling from afar—all in homage to a babe born in a manger! Fairy tales? Not at all. We believe the whole account, because we know that the Christ comes not by sense testimony; we know that He comes as a spiritual, invisible presence, and that the imaging power of the mind must necessarily build up figures by which to convey the idea of His coming within.
11. Because we know that every gift of the Father has its invisible source in Him, we feel that the idea of the Christmas time should be enlarged rather than diminished. We must get away from the belief that our good comes through laborious effort. We must come to know that all our supply is from the free bounty of God.
12. We can learn a most important lesson from the faith of the child who hangs his stockings by the fireplace for Santa Claus to fill with the gifts he has been asked to place in it. Instead of trying to lessen the faith of the child in the unseen helper, it would be vastly beneficial to us if we learned from him how to ask, stretch forth the empty hand, and find it filled.
13. Of course, it is not necessary to lay stress upon the Santa Claus personality. The teaching should be that there is a loving Helper who answers our prayers, an ever-ready Provider for all our needs. Gradually the teaching can lead the child more and more to understand that every good thing comes from the Father, but always faith and willingness to receive are the conditions under which our prayers are brought into visible answer.
14. Let us get out of the habit of thinking and teaching that life is only that which we can see, feel, touch, taste, or smell. Let us enlarge life by acting on the truth that it is “not of works, that no man should glory.” Our children are wise in the faith that he who asks receives, and their teaching should be that which will bring them into the living reality of the invisible Supplier.