And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. …
…and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!
A Christmas Carol
Those two texts are perhaps the two most well-known in the world, when it comes to Christmass.
The first, of course, is from the Bible, and is an excerpt from the book of Luke, in which the birth of Christ, and the circumstances surrounding his birth, are detailed.
The second is a fictional account of a man named Ebeneezer Scrooge who was infamous throughout all of London as a man of ill-will, who hoarded his considerable means for no other reason than to store it away where it would do no one any good. Of course, in that well-told tale we see how Scrooge is visited by the spirits of Christmas past, present and future, and during those visits he begins to understand one simple truth: Our highest calling, perhaps our reason for existence, is to use whatever gifts we have to serve others.
The Biblical account of the origin of Christmas, of the birth of Christ, is but the first passage that tells of the remarkable life of Christ. Tracing the story of Christ through the rest of the Bible we see a man who, it could be argued, changed the world more than any other individual in history, change that is still under way.
And his birth is accompanied by the heavenly host wishing peace and good will toward all.
In A Christmas Carol, we find a man who, once he discovers the true meaning of Christmas — perhaps the true meaning of life — dedicates himself to making his part of the world a better place, to helping individuals and families.
On this Christmas Day in 2012, let us hope we can all more ardently pursue those two goals — to make peace with and offer goodwill to all we know, and to celebrate the spirit of Christmas by extending the general good cheer of this season to all, throughout the year.