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Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Smith’

 

Why is it that most of us find Christmas to be the pinnacle of each year?

Is it:

  • the twinkling lights and candle glow?
  • the treats like eggnog that we only allow ourselves during the holidays?
  • the gift-giving, with all the build-up of anticipation beforehand?

Or might it be because: “Christmas is the day that holds all time together?”

Those words were penned by Alexander Smith, a Scottish poet of the 1800s. With just nine words he deftly solved the riddle. It is the Christmas season, more so than any other time, when past, present, and future come together in one glorious, unified experience.

Consider how the past becomes entwined with the present as families celebrate traditions or display treasured Christmas heirlooms, passed down from one generation to the next.

 

 

Releasing each one from its cocoon of packing tissue is like greeting an old friend. And attached to those decorations are memories–memories of the loved ones who gave them to us and memories of Christmases past.

 

(Aunt Louise made these for us,

the first year Steve and I were married.)

 

One ornament in our family’s vintage collection causes a great wave of nostalgia for me. It’s shaped a bit like an old lamp, and shimmers softly with the patina of age, pale green and silver.

My father bought the ornament when he was just nine or ten years old in the mid-1930s. Grandma gave him the honor of bicycling to the dime store to choose a new decoration for the family tree.

Later he realized she and his older siblings were probably anxious to get him out of the house, so they could deck the halls without an excited boy underfoot.

That lamp-ornament hung on our family Christmas tree all the years I was growing up in the 1950s and ’60s. And sometime in the 1980s, Mom and Dad passed it on to me.

 

 

Wrapped up in that one decoration are all the Christmases of my distant, childhood past, characterized by tinsel-covered trees, dolls in crisp dresses, programs at church and school, and dining tables overflowing with delectable feasts.

As I hang the little lamp, my imagination returns to those Christmases, celebrated with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, whose love and laughter now live only in my heart.

Undoubtedly, memories are an important part of the euphoria Christmas creates. But there is plenty about the present that brings joy to the season as well:

  • Carols ring, and sweet aromas waft from kitchens
  • Cards arrive from distant loved ones, renewing bonds of love and friendship
  • Gifts are purchased and wrapped, with the hope of bringing delight to the recipients
  • Meals become occasions to be savored, as family and friends gather to simply enjoy one another’s company

 

 

And what about the future? As Christmas approaches, the thrill of splendorous moments to come certainly has us looking forward. Who has not felt the excitement of checking off days on the calendar until that special party? Until loved ones arrive? Until Christmas Day itself?

And no sooner does one holiday season draw to a close, than we start thinking, “Next year, I’m going to make some of those cookies Sylvia brought to the party.” Or, “Next Christmas we’ll have another grandchild to enjoy!”

 

(Our youngest granddaughter,

in 2016)

 

And so, it is just as Alexander Smith said. Christmas holds all time together–in memories of the past, joys of the present, and anticipation of the future.

However, Mr. Smith’s words include a deeper truth for us as Christians. In one shining moment, past, present, and future came together at the birth of our Savior.

First, a number of prophecies from hundreds of years in the past, were perfectly fulfilled.

 

(Gerard van Honthorst’s Adoration of the Shepherds, 1622)

 

Second, we have only to consider his name, Emmanuel, to realize how Jesus’ birth touches the present. No doubt you remember Emmanuel means “God with us.” Present tense is suggested, reminding us that now, Jesus is with those who desire his presence.

Finally, our future is secure because of Christmas. Those familiar words of John 3:16 make clear:  God loves us and sent his Son, Jesus. When we believe in him, he gives us the precious gift of eternal life. Such simple truth, yet wondrously profound.

 

 

In reality then, it’s not just the celebration of Christmas that joins past, present, and future. It’s the One we celebrate on Christmas that holds all time together.

 

“To the only God our Savior

be glory, majesty, power and authority,

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

before all ages, now and forevermore!

Amen.”

Jude 25

(Emphasis added.)

 

________________________

 

What experience(s) of the Christmas season bring together all time for you?  Tell us about it in the Comment section below!

 

Photo credits: Nancy Ruegg; http://www.needpix.com; Nancy Ruegg (2); http://www.flickr.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.wikipedia.org.

 

(revised and reblogged from December 9, 2012)

 

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Why is it that most of us find Christmas to be the pinnacle of each year? Is it:

• the twinkling lights and yard displays?
• the treats like eggnog, that we only allow ourselves during the holidays?
• the gift-giving, with all the build-up of anticipation beforehand?

Or might it be because: “Christmas is the day that holds all time together?”

Those words were penned by Alexander Smith, a Scottish poet of the 1800s. With just nine words he deftly solved the riddle. It is the Christmas season, more so than any other time, when past, present, and future come together in one glorious, unified experience.

Consider how the past becomes entwined with the present as the holiday season progresses. Memories are more poignant than ever, and traditions hold greater import. For example, preparing the house for the holidays often involves customs and heirlooms that have been in the family for years.

One custom many of us enjoy is decorating the Christmas tree. And it’s probable that most families treasure at least several heirloom ornaments. Releasing each one from its cocoon of tissue is like greeting an old friend. And attached to those decorations are memories–memories of the loved ones who gave them to us and memories of Christmases past.

80f187c85d8aa953ad21dd5db15a4c44

One particular ornament of our family’s collection causes a great wave of nostalgia for me. It’s shaped a bit like an old kerosene lamp, and shimmers softly with the patina of age, pale green and silver.

My father bought that ornament, in the early 1930s, when he was just nine or ten. Grandma gave him the honor of bicycling to the dime store to choose a new decoration for the family tree. Later he realized she and his older siblings were probably anxious to get him out of the house, so they could complete holiday preparations without an overly excited boy underfoot.

That lamp-ornament hung on our family Christmas tree all the years I was growing up in the 1950s and ’60s. And sometime in the 1980s, Mom and Dad passed it on to me.

Wrapped up in that one decoration are all the Christmases of my distant, childhood past, characterized by tinsel-covered trees, dolls in crisp, starched dresses, programs at church and school, and dining tables overflowing with delectable feasts. As I hang the little lamp, my imagination returns to those Christmases celebrated with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, whose love and laughter now live only in my heart.

Undoubtedly, memories are an important part of the euphoria Christmas creates. But there is plenty about the present that brings joy to the season as well: families gather, carols ring, and sweet aromas waft from kitchens. Cards arrive from distant loved ones, renewing bonds of love and friendship. Gifts are purchased and wrapped, with the delicious anticipation of bringing delight to the recipients. Meals become occasions to be savored, as family and friends gather to simply enjoy one another’s company.

And what about the future? As Christmas approaches, the excitement of all the splendorous moments to come certainly has us looking forward. In fact, there is a large measure of joy in the anticipation itself, not just in the events. Who has not felt the excitement of checking off days on the calendar until that special party? Until loved ones arrive? Until Christmas Day itself?

And no sooner does one holiday season draw to a close, than we start thinking, “Next year, I’m going to make some of those cookies Sylvia brought to the party.” Or, “Next Christmas we’ll have two grandchildren to enjoy, not just one!”

And so, it is just as Alexander Smith said. Christmas holds all time together–in memories of the past, joys of the present, and anticipation of the future.

However, Mr. Smith’s words include a deeper truth for us as Christians. Christmas is, after all, the holiday, or holy day, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Again, past, present, and future come together in one shining moment.

First, Christ’s birth obviously took place in the past, two thousand years ago.

Second, we have only to consider his name, Emmanuel, to realize how Jesus’ birth touches the present. No doubt you remember Emmanuel means “God with us.” Present tense is suggested, reminding us that now, in the present, Jesus is with those who desire his presence.

Finally, the greatest truth of all: Our future is secure because of Christmas. Those familiar words of John 3:16 make clear that God loves us and sent his Son, Jesus. When we believe in him, he gives us the most precious gift of eternal life. It is a simple fact, but wondrously profound.

In reality then, it’s not just the celebration of Christmas that joins past, present, and future. It’s the One we celebrate on Christmas that holds all time together.

“To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 25).

What experience(s) of the Christmas season bring together all time for you? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

(Photo credit:  www.pinterest.com.)

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