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December 23, 1997

The carolers sing "0 Holy Night" and you listen to the lyrical words as if they were brand new, and it comes to you in an overwhelming wave of understanding: Christ was born to save our eternal souls. What makes us worthy of a gift like that? It's the magic of Christmas spread before us once again, old but new. The mystery challenges and baffles our finite minds to the edge of credulity.

For many of us, the comprehension does not begin until we ourselves become parents. Then, with children of our own to light up our lives, we may begin to sense the love behind such a magnificent treasure. But whatever stage of life we're in, it's plain that we have nothing to commend us but the love of our creator God.

The commercialization of Christmas becomes greater each year and draws your attention from the point that should be the focus of this holy season. It's hard to push aside the glitter and tinsel, the gaily wrapped packages placed beneath the tree that pique our curiosity, and to see beyond them to the lowly stable where the infant Christ-child lay in a manger.

Traditions change in the secular celebration of Christmas. New toys capture the imagination, new decorative gimmicks are introduced, new entertainment is brought forth to bring us pleasure. They heighten the joy and excitement of the season, and there's nothing wrong with that if we keep in mind the reason for all this.

As the carolers stroll along with their voices proclaiming the glad tidings of that first Christmas, we're reminded that our worldly cares can be laid aside and should never burden us because we know that a Savior has been given to us by the Ruler of the Universe. And then we reflect on our own unworthiness, and like a curtain parting we see the point of it all.

We have nothing to merit this, only God's love for us. It is there for us to accept or to sweep aside in rejection. It is offered freely, and we have only to grasp it in acceptance. What an enormous present! Merry Christmas to all.