What Christmas Means to Me

(Guest Editorial) Tomorrow is Christmas, and in its observance The Times-Union has invited Rev. L. E. (Gene) Shoemaker, pastor of the Church of the Nazarene, Lincoln & Market streets in Warsaw to write this guest editorial.

The spell of Christmas has fallen again upon our world. "There is born unto you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord," is the way in which the angel announced the fact to the shepherds. It is a record of what happened almost two thousand years ago. It was heralded by the song of the heavenly choir over the hills of Bethlehem, and that sweet music is heard again today, in anthem and sermon the world around, as men pay homage to Christ and the lowly manger in Bethlehem.

However, multitudes this Christmas will get along very well without Christ. They will have no room for Him. He will hardly be in all their thoughts. They will not bow down and worship Him. Thousands upon thousands will keep the Day as a holiday because others are keeping it, with laughter and pleasure and gift making and the formidable feast of the Christmas dinner. That will be their Christmas Day. They may for a transient moment relate it to a great historic fact to which their intellects give assent as to any other fact of history. But that is all. It will only mean that one named Jesus was born in a place called Bethlehem a long time ago. It will not mean that He is born again in their hearts.

Unless Jesus Christ is the great reality in your life today, you have missed the great meaning of His birth and the transcendent significance of His life and death and resurrections. Has He been born in you? If He has, it means joy, joy on Christmas, and joy on every day. If he has, it means hope, a hope that is sure and steadfast and radiates the darkest hour. If He has been born again in you, it means victory over sin and sorrow through the might of Him who lives forever and has never failed mankind. If your heart is not filled with joy today, because of Christ's coming into the world, you have missed the meaning of His birthday.

Why did the Son of God come into this world of ours? One answer there is, and one only: He came to save us from our sins, but chiefly He came to save us from the awful sin of selfishness. When men become His disciples, self goes out and Christ goes in. It is love for Christ, born of a recognition of His love for us, that lifts us out of self.

"Ready for Christmas"

"Ready for Christmas," she said with a sigh
As she gave a last touch to the gifts piled high;
Then wearily sat for a moment and read
Till soon, very soon, she was nodding her head.
Then quietly spoke a voice in her dream,
"Ready for Christmas? What do you mean?
Ready for Christmas, when only last week
You wouldn't acknowledge your friend on the street?

"Ready for Christmas, While holding a grudge?
Perhaps you had better let God be the Judge?
Why, how can the Christ child come and abide
In a heart that is selfish and filled with pride?

"Ready for Christmas, when only today
A beggar lad came and you turned him away
Without even a smile to show that you cared?
The little he asked--it could have been spared.

"Ready for Christmas? You've worked it is true,
but just doing the things that you wanted to do.
Ready for Christmas? Your circle's too small.
Why you are not ready for Christmas at all.

She awoke with a start, and a cry of despair,
There's so little time, and I've still to prepare!
O Father, forgive me, I see what you mean,
To be ready means more than a house swept clean!"

Yes, more than the giving of gifts and a tree,
It's the heart swept clean that He wants to see,
A heart that is free from bitterness--sin,
Ready for Christmas--ready for Him!

This, then is the heart of Christmas. Let it be spent for others. Charles Dickens saw in the Christmas time a challenge to love to let itself out. Men should cultivate and display the giving spirit. "God so loved the world that He gave" to mankind, to you and to me, the greatest gift He had, His only Son, His very Self. No mother ever loved her child as God loves men. No mother ever gave as God gave and as God gives.

Warsaw Times-Union, December 24, (year unknown)


Warsaw Times-Union Saturday May 24, 1958