Do you recall the "Dennis the Menace" comics, which chronicled the escapades of a mischievous young lad who constantly got himself into trouble? For many years on Christmas morning, newspapers would run a particular comic strip where Dennis would be standing in the middle of his living room, which was filled with toys and discarded boxes, bows and wrapping paper. With a look of bewilderment on his face, he asks this question: "Is this all there is?"
Sadly, for many people, this is all there is to Christmas - the frantic rush to purchase something for someone who doesn't really need it in the first place, and who likely will return it to the department store the following day! Thankfully, for Christians, this festive day means much more. Whatever Christmas has become in all its secular glory, the most important aspect of this joyous feast is still summoned up in its first six letters: C H R I S T!
CHRISTMAS IN THE MANGER by Nola Buck, illustrated by Felicia Bond. Sweet and gentle telling of the Nativity story for the very youngest, a "pat and peek" book with a rhyming text from the point of view of the animals, shepherds, Mary and Joseph. The last line is so sweet,
"I am the baby asleep in the hay, and I am the reason for Christmas Day".
Christmas reminds us that "God so loved the world that he gave His Only-Begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Christmas is a time for us to recall that peaceful night when God sent a Savior to His people, keeping His ancient promise. It is a day for us to sing like the angelic hosts: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men!" It is also a day for us to imitate the shepherds, who left from their encounter with the Christ Child glorifying and praising God, and an opportunity for us to exhibit the same perseverance as the Wise Men, seeking our King no matter the sacrifice involved.
|image by Niko Chocheli - source|
As we sing in one of the feast's hymns of Vespers: "Heaven and earth are united today because Christ is born." Indeed, this is all there is and all we need to know about this glorious day.
|PREPARE O BETHLEHEM: THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY, by Niko Chocheli. Luminously illustrated verses from Orthodox hymns of the prefeast and feast of the Nativity.|
A good reminder in these last days of preparation...