The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Busy with Christmas ...

... but empty and dark within?

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv'n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heav'n.
No ear may hear his coming;
But, in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.

Just as silently, just as surely, the Christ of Bethlehem is here again. In one part of our town, the residents outdo each other to string lights and set up moving figures in spectacular outdoor displays. The lights are so dazzling that the houses behind them seem to vanish. In fact, the owners are advised to keep their front rooms dark so no distractions will mar the overall effect.

I wonder what it is like to come home to one of those houses, drive through the shell of lights and go inside. Has Christmas come there too? Or are the houses like our lives--busy with Christmas on the outside but empty and dark within?

Not long ago I walked down the corridor of a retirement center, looking at the Christmas decorations that residents had made for their doors. The decorations were small, not complicated or expensive. I guessed that they had been made in some craft session. A few were evident variations on a single pattern. One was very different. It had no tinsel; no colored Christmas seals. It looked more like a place card with just a few decorative pen strokes. It read simply, "Welcome, Lord Jesus."

Decorating for Christmas gives us a wonderful opportunity to open our hearts to Jesus the Christ. As we get out the seasonal paraphernalia, let's make the manger scene an occasion to welcome the Son of God into our home. As we put the Christmas symbols on our tree, let's do it with a prayer for God's presence in our lives.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.


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February issue


Embracing diversity