Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 19, 2004


Why Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year


      Christmas is not a happy time for everyone. Some of my Christian friends struggle to get through this season. For some strange reason, the suicide rate goes up during December. Perhaps the increased gaiety of many magnifies the sadness and loneliness that others endure.

          Sadness at Christmas is understandable. Some of my older friends are alone now, and the Christmas celebration churns up precious memories of happier times. I think we all hurt for those who, on Christmas morning, will not hear a precious child or grandchild say “Merry Christmas” or have the little ones give them a hug.

          There are also many who will have little to celebrate because they are trapped in poverty. Some parents will be distressed because they simply are not able to buy even a few gifts for their children. In our family there is the story of one penniless widow said sternly to her two children one year, “There will be no Christmas this year.” The three of them shared a meal and little else.

          Despite all this, Christmas remains for many of us that “most wonderful time of the year.” I want to share some of the reasons why it is that for me. Perhaps, if you enjoy Christmas, you can identify with me.

          I like Christmas because of the lights. Bright lights are everywhere, shining, blinking, and inviting us to celebrate. Untold millions of people light up the world at Christmastime. Perhaps it is our way of dispelling the darkness of life and telling it that it cannot defeat us.

          Christmas is wonderful because so many children enjoy it. How precious are the faces of little children tearing open a gift from under the tree on Christmas morning! I will never forget the thrill of Christmas morning when I was a child, or the joy of providing gifts for our own children when they were young and bright-eyed. I do think that, for a child, Christmas morning is the best morning of the entire year. It ought to be, if we are able to make it so.

          I like Christmas because of the music. There is no finer music that Christmas music. Who would want to live without the thrill of hearing “O Holy Night,” “Handel’s Messiah,” or “Joy to the World”? Not to mention those other great classics: “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Here Comes Santa Claus”! Music alone makes Christmas a marvelous time to be alive.

          I like Christmas because it motivates people to be generous. People who are stingy all year will become bighearted at Christmas. I know there are some mean, selfish people in the world, but they are outnumbered by the great majority who are charitable. Christmas simply brings out the best in people, causing them to want to give and to help those who are less fortunate.

          Christmas means a lot to me because it adds excitement to worship. People flock to church in greater numbers at Christmas and at Easter. It is simply difficult for a preacher to be boring when he tells the story of a God who sent his son to be born in a cow’s stall.

          Perhaps more people go to church at Christmastime because they long to know if it is really true that God became a baby to show us how much he loves us. It seems more believable when I join in singing with the children, “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.” In the quietness I hear my heart saying, “Yes, Lord, Yes!”

          All over the world, on Christmas Eve, churches will be filled with people coming as families to receive Holy Communion. Why do millions of people around the world celebrate the birth of a baby born so long ago?

          I think Phillips Brooks figured it out. He wrote a song that outlived him – “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” For more than a hundred years, people have loved to sing this song. I like Christmas because Brooks’ song is so popular.

          Imagine a world filled with people who would sing these words, and try to live by them:

          “O holy Child of Bethlehem,

          Descend to us, we pray;

          Cast out our sin, and enter in,

          Be born in us today.

          We hear the Christmas angels

          The great glad tidings tell;

          O come to us, abide with us,

          Our Lord Emmanuel!”

          Say what you will, I like Christmas. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. I plan to enjoy it. I hope you will too. + + + +