Several times I sat to write a few words, but each time my heart has not been highly motivated. The 100-degree weather is not exactly conducive to reflecting on Christmas. Christmas, for me, is still associated with childhood. I remember the days of snow and sledding down the hill and scooting across the pond below the house. Then we would put on ice skates and play until the early dark chased us home. At home there was the hot chocolate with marshmallows (the big ones—don’t remember miniature ones then) and s’mores and the smells of fresh fir Christmas trees and fruit from the baskets sent from members of the church. There was the Christmas caroling at night with Dad’s youth group and the games at church afterwards with more hot chocolate (and marshmallows!). Then there was the Christmas mid-night service with candles and, in our home, waking early Christmas morning to have Dad read the Christmas story, open gifts and then off to church again. Finally, back home to eat the Christmas dinner and either play with gifts or outside in the snow. Somehow, those memories don’t mix with the 100-degree weather and glaring sun of the present.
But, on reflection, I realize how much Christmas is a matter of the heart. The weather and culture might be radically different from that of my childhood, but the celebration of the birth of Christ is still the same. The food we will eat on Christmas day will be special—not turkey and pies, but chapatis, shadza and goat—but it is still the celebration of God coming to be with us in the world. A day to remember that, although the world continues in brokenness and sin, God’s lovely light of grace shines upon us, just as it shone on the shepherds when the angels announced the GOOD NEWS.
Christmas does not depend on weather or culture. Christmas is not the property of one political group or another. It is a matter of the heart: the believing heart celebrating the birth of Jesus. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). You won’t hear such good news on any TV or radio station today. It takes angels to make such a proclamation…and a believing heart to rejoice in it.
Rev. Michael and Jo Ann Megahan work with the Kalanga Old Testament translation team in Botswana.