Merry Christmas, 2009, ‘to all people’

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Americans have celebrated 232 Christmases since we declared our independence from Great Britain, 219 since our federal government was implemented under the new Constitution.

As a nation, we have celebrated in war and in peace, during times of prosperity and during times of great need, in years of hope and in years of despair. The nation has endured, and so has Christmas.

If the official celebration of the birth of the Christ Child did not begin until 300 years later, there was an original celebration, and they got it right.

Perhaps the Jewish shepherds had heard the words of Isaiah the prophet: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. ... For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this.”

Even if they had missed temple that day (or that year), right out there in the fields among the sheep, “Behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”

So the shepherds decided to go see “this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. ... Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

If it took the organized Church 300 more years to commemorate that occasion, so what? It was a big deal when the shepherds got the news and began the first Christmas celebration.

It’s still big news today. Big Good News for all who recognize their need for a savior, “who is Christ the Lord.”

We say, with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace to men of good will.”

Merry Christmas to all our readers from the staff of The Citizen.