The message of Christmas in 2016

Published 10:16 pm Monday, December 19, 2016

By Myrtle Virginia Thompson

I love Christmas because of its meaning, but I keep wondering: Have we forgotten why we celebrate? Many have regard for the manger scene but don’t know the historical biblical imprint.

Everywhere, there are reminders of Santa, “Season’s Greetings” and “winter holidays,” but I keep wondering, “What happened to Christ in Christmas?” Stores are stacked with displays of toys, but only a few tell of the Gift of God we are celebrating.

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I open my Bible for a refresher course. I am glad Mary knew her Jewish heritage. A godly young girl had responded to the angel Gabriel when he was dispatched to tell her what was taking place. Sacred moments.

My imagination takes off. I want more of the story.

I know from Scripture the Baby born that night is the One Who created the world in which we live. God places value on people, expressed by the word “love” in John 3:16. Jesus left the glory He had with the Father before creation. He entered the world in human form, a helpless baby, a natural birth, brought to pass by the Holy Spirit.

He was the long-expected Redeemer, promised and needed since Genesis 3:15. He understood everything about life on Earth. What a story!

The “humanness” in this story speaks to me. The eternal God became man for us. Old Testament prophets wrote details about the coming Messiah.

Luke the historian says Mary left immediately to visit her cousin Elizabeth. I read again the beautiful Magnificat, Mary’s genealogy, her response to Elizabeth in this historical account.

Why Elizabeth? Mary obviously had heard the story of the expected Messiah. From her mother? Did Mary go to her older cousin Elizabeth to get some instruction about what to expect, because her mother was not living?

She was there 3 months. Was the baby in Elizabeth’s womb born while Mary was still there? It was at Elizabeth’s door she received a firm confirmation to her faith the moment she arrived. God would fulfill the plan of the ages, and Mary and Elizabeth were the first to see its beginning.

Luke says Mary wrapped Jesus in “swaddling clothes.” One writer says that when the men traveled for a distance, they wrapped a long cloth around their waist. It was called the “swaddling cloth,” to be used for burial in case death occurred on the trip.

Had Joseph followed that tradition? If so, is there a “nuanced” picture for us? Was the manger scene a foretelling of both Joseph’s death and also the cross?

Mary was told a sword would pierce her heart. There is only a small scriptural record of Joseph after the experience with Jesus at age 12.

I am reminded of a story in II Kings 22-23. Josiah became king of Judah at age 8 and served the Lord faithfully. Eighteen years later, he began reforms that purged Judah and Jerusalem.

In the storage rooms of the temple Hilkiah the high priest found a copy of the book of the Law written by Moses. Shaphan the scribe showed and read it to King Josiah. Next is a sacred story of remembrance, revival and returning to God.

Maybe we need to look for the Book this year and review the story of Christmas. May we never forget the Opus of our Salvation, the song the angels sang that night, “the reason for the season.”

May the memory never be forgotten, never lost by being “put in a storehouse” somewhere. Reading and meditating on the story this year will keep our focus on that.

Myrtle V. Thompson is a Suffolk resident and former missionary. Email her at