The True Image of Christmas


Picture it — an A-frame chalet in the hills above Gatlinburg Tennessee. Snow on the ground and trees covered in ice, making them look like glass. A roaring fire sets aglow the prefab fireplace in the left corner of the room. A huge glass wall offers a spectacular view of Main Street in Gatlinburg down below, completely lit with lights and splendid Christmas decorations. All surrounded by a forest of glass trees magically shining under a full moon.

The Christmas tree on the right side of the room is fully decorated with a red tablecloth wrapped around its base, just begging for the bevy of presents that are soon to come. This is the scene as I sit in my overstuffed chair, sipping hot apple cider from my Happy Holidays mug, reading my new Christmas novel by a favorite author.

The book is a pleasant read, filled with the atmosphere of Christmastime. The story unfolds about a young couple caught up in an adventure with life-changing circumstances. A new beginning, finding love and hope for the future, during the Christmas season.

An entertaining image … but what about Christmas?

As I sit reading, I listen to an Internet radio station playing Christmas music nonstop. I hear the familiar strains from artists of yesterday singing about stories of snowmen, a white Christmas, sleighs, and grandma having an accident with a reindeer. Again I wonder…

This is a pleasant and entertaining Image … but what about Christmas?

We decorate our homes, participate in Christmas traditions, but many times we find ourselves caught up in the image of Christmas. An image, although fun, has nothing to do with what Christmas is all about.

Picture this — in a cave being used as a barn, a young couple is having a baby without a mid-wife, much less a doctor. Not even a bed for the young mother to lay on while she gives birth. Only a scratchy pile of hay which her anxious husband hurriedly pushes together to form a makeshift bed, covered with his cloak, as his young wife squeezes his arm and grimaces, “Hurry! It’s coming! It’s coming! Hurry!”

We all know the stench of animals in a barn as representing a most unsanitary condition. Yet, this is the event for which people all around the world celebrate with glitter and candy canes. What this poor desperate young couple did have, though, was the blessing and protection of God Almighty as His son was brought into the world.

This wasn’t a pleasant or entertaining image … but this was Christmas.

The Bible teaches us:

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10 NLT)

So, this year, as we watch our favorite Christmas movies, listen to our favorite beautiful Christmas music, and enjoy all the festivities that encapsulate our modern-day image of Christmas, remember that cave, used as a barn, where a poor young struggling mother brought forth the Son of God, the Savior of mankind, in the most difficult and unglamorous of situations. Remember how Father God helped them. And remember the true image of Christmas.

Copyright © 2019 Gene Markland, used by permission.



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