As I child, I remember the "magic" of Christmas. For many years I thought that Santa brought the presents. Eventually I discovered that they really came from underneath my parent's bed. Christmas Eve was spent at church and always involved holding real fire on a candle and singing Christmas carols as the Christmas story was read.
Then we came home to punch and cookies while sitting around the tree with a fire crackling in the fireplace. The last thing we did was put cookies out for Santa before going to bed. Christmas morning started early! Our parents had set a limit as to how early, but early nonetheless. The three of us would go into the living room and examine all the gifts underneath the tree. There was always an unwrapped toy sticking out of the top of our stockings and we would climb up on the fireplace to examine it close up. When the time came, we would man out stations. My brother would put a Christmas carol record on the stereo and turn the volume way up. My sister would stand by the outlet with the Christmas lights plug in her hand. I would stand in ready position by the living room door. On the signal, my brother would put the needle down on the record, my sister would plug in the lights and I would take off at a full run to my parents bedroom to jump on their bed announcing that "Christmas is here! Christmas is here!." After an excrutiatingly long wait while my Dad went through his morning routine-shaving, brushing his teeth etc- we would finally get to see what was in all those brightly colored gifts!
This same scenario had played out many years ago in the shepherd's fields outside of a small town called Bethlehem. Israel lanquished under the oppression of the Roman government awaiting their deliverer. Surely, at times, the shepherds had discussed this very thing around the fire on those long, chilly nights. On this night, all was calm and then as if someone gave the signal, the sky suddenly flooded with light and angels appeared in the heavens singing the first Christmas greeting, "Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill to men." The shepards were excited to go and see the gift God had given them.
"Long lay the world in sin and error pining, til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices." Israel understood their current state. Yet they had hope that a deliverer was coming to set up God's kingdom on the earth. So when the angels announced the birth of their King, they ran to the place where he was so that they could see this wonderful gift so long promised. The problem was, they did not understand that their oppression was much deeper than the Roman Government. Their Messiah came to free the oppressed hearts of mankind. Eventually they would come to know that what they expected and what had really come were very different, so different that Judas chose to betray his own king.
Sadly, not much has changed. Many live oppressed by the devil and don't even recognize that they are in bondage and in need of freedom through the forgiveness of sins. They do not run to see the Savior, in fact they have an incredibly skewed view of who Jesus is. Although the gift is still the same that the shepherds ran to see, they do not desire to gaze upon their King.
While the earth groans for His return, humanity frolics around their golden calves not knowing that judgment is very near. When Christ returns in all His glory, they will wish that they had paid more attention to the message He left on the earth.
We are the bearers of that message. Although we may not be able to deliver that message with all the granduer of the angels, we must, nonetheless, share that message with as many people as possible. God has graced us with His Holy Spirit for this very purpose. Tell the world! The Savior has come! The King is coming soon! Come and see this wondrous gift!