Merry Christmas, everyone. I'm one of those who really does believe in Christmas. I believe in the whole thing. I believe that Jesus was the Son of God. I believe the birth of the world's savior was foretold by prophets of old. I believe Jesus was that savior. I believe God chose to come down and live as a man, in order to reach out to us. I believe Jesus was born of a virgin, the baby inside Mary being conceived by the Holy Spirit. I believe Joseph was a good man, who assumed that Mary had been unfaithful, but was told by God in a dream that she was pregnant due to a miracle. I believe Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem in order to register with the government. I believe the city was jammed with people due to the government-enforced registration, and they ended up sleeping in a stable, since it was the only place available for them. I believe while they were there Mary gave birth to a son, wrapped him up in strips of cloth, and laid him in a manger. I believe angels were so excited about the birth of the Savior they broke out into song. I believe there were shepherds in the fields nearby, who heard the singing, were amazed at what they saw, and ran into Bethlehem to see this incredible thing. I believe they saw the baby Jesus, understood He was the promised Savior, and worshipped a little baby. I believe that a bit later some wise men from the east came, because they too had been led to believe a Savior was coming, and they found Jesus, gave him gifts, and worshipped him as well. I believe King Herod was afraid of this baby because Herod was a politically-appointed king, but the baby was announced as having been "born King of the Jews." I believe Herod, who was thoroughly evil, had all the little boys in the region killed as a means of trying to stop the true King from coming. I believe that Joseph and Mary had been warned in a dream to flee the area, so the baby Jesus was saved. I believe there is abundant evidence of all these things, and that it doesn't take a huge amount of faith to believe in all of it. And I believe the Christmas season is one of joy, where we are reminded that there is a God, and He loves us, and He came down to earth to live among us. And that should lead us to rejoice.
Sure, there's plenty of bad stuff about Christmas. We can complain that it's too commercial, too focused on presents, too materialistic and not spiritual enough. But I don't really care about the commerciality, because I believe it all points to the truth that really matters: That Jesus was born and we need to remember and celebrate that. So I believe all those songs about having a White Christmas and a Holly Jolly Christmas and Walking in a Winter Wonderland are great fun, and can be enjoyed as much as any other Christmas song. I believe Christmas trees and Christmas ornaments and candles are part of the fun, part of the celebration of the newborn King.
And yes, I recognize there are bad things in this world. I believe in evil as well as good. People are fighting over land and skin color and religious technicalities. Too many of my fellow countrymen are out of work, cold, and hungry. In my own family we've had some very difficult circumstances just recently, and they make me wonder sometimes where God is in the turmoil. There is tragedy and sadness and sickness and hunger and despair in this world, and I hate that. But celebrating Christmas isn't a way to gloss over the world's problems, or to try and deny difficulty — it's a way to announce that, in a world that is too often hurting and hateful, there is hope. The King of Kings has come. The Prince of Peace has arrived. He is the Wonderful Counselor, the Everlasting Father. I really believe that.
So, in the end, my belief trumps the behaviors of this world. I see the problems, but I continue to believe. I continue to have hope that God is here, and He really does care for us, and He wants to make things better. I believe in a God who loves us so much He came down to live as a man, offering us a reason for living, a pattern to follow, and a hope for the future. I believe in the message that is Christmas, and my prayer today is that, wherever you are and whatever circumstances you may be in, the Prince of Peace will grant you peace today. I believe there is hope for this world because God is a God of miracles, and He showed it through the circumstances of that first Christmas. I believe in Christmas. Merry Christmas, everyone.