When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." Luke 2:15.
Well, I guess I won’t go to the stable in Bethlehem as the shepherds did, mainly because Bethlehem is a distance away, and I don’t want a stray bullet in my back. Besides, the stable is long gone, and the ornate structure that replaces it, or where they think it was, is totally out of character with the original.
Mind you, we can visit it regularly at children’s portrayals in myriad locations, at crèches in front yards and on mantle shelves. We can’t hear the angels sing, but we can hear their song in malls, shopping centres and on radio. And we can see and hear it in the comfort of heated homes and public places, not the windswept winter hills of Bethlehem.
Trouble is, yearly repetition and a barrage of the Babe’s birth every Christmas dulls the message behind the excess. Even I find it hard to reflect on the wonder of the Christmas message when constant use devalues its impact. I cling to the mental knowledge that for me, for many of us, it is the greatest wonder of the world, but I have little emotional attachment.
How do you keep the freshness of Christmas alive?