Chaplain’s Chat Rev. Dun Gordy
NOW, IT’S CHRISTMAS
One of the words that many modern Bible translations leave out is that little 3-letter word “now”. It is found 1,356 times in the King James Version. And none so significant as the very first word in God’s telling of the real Christmas story: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise…” Matthew 1:18
Man’s earliest feeble attempts to embellish an already sufficiently beautiful message that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…” came in the early days of the church age. A loveable parish priest, Nicholas was particularly fond of children and always had candy and treats for them.
In Holland it was said that St. Nicholas came back every Dec. 6, riding a white horse and putting candy in children's shoes. Dutch brought it to U.S. as "Sinter Klaus". (Americans found you can get more candy in stocking than in a shoe!)
Martin Luther added the tree to the Christmas tradition in the 1540’s. Later the British introduced the holly to the Christmas scene. The spirits who inhabited the forest were able to hide in it. Being brought in out of the cold, they had good will towards those who so provided for them. But it was unlucky to bring it inside before December 24.
Gift giving at Christmas was brought over from Roman paganism in the 3rd and 4th centuries. But the giving of Christmas cards was not introduced until 1846.
The poem by Clement Moore in 1822 enhanced what some have called “the Santa myth” even more. It was not until then that we found out that Santa was just a tiny elf, small enough to navigate a chimney. And we learned the names of his reindeer. Credit Coca Cola’s advertising campaign early in the 1900s with bringing Santa to the life-size one we know today.
Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer wasn’t added to the story until 1939 by the Montgomery Ward department store. His image only grew when Gene Autry re-introduced him with the now popular song in 1949.
Then came Frosty the Snowman in the 50’s, later joined by Mrs. Frosty and made famous by Burl Ives, Jimmy Durante and others. Along about this time Amahl and the Night Visitors was added to the Christmas story. But not until the civil-rights movement of the 60’s did one of the three Wise Men become black!
And now comes the Grinch! What will they add next in their attempt to embellish the simplicity of the really Good News?
I am going to enjoy all the cultural traditions of this season. I might even go disguised as Bubba Claus from the SOUTH pole and act like the kid that still lives in this old man’s body.
But I do not want to forget that the message the angels proclaimed that night in Bethlehem is as up-to-date NOW as it was then. It is still a message of JOY and PEACE. And in the midst of a materialistic society let us not neglect the giving of thanks for that Son of God, born in a stable so many centuries ago.
He is still King of kings and Lord of lords!