Christmas: A Call to Remember

I


n his book, A Room Called Remember, Fredrick Buechner tells about the great snowfall in New York City in the winter of 1947. At first it seemed no different from any other snow storm. The flakes gently floated down without any wind to drive them. All day they fell. Gradually the sidewalks, parked cars and buildings were covered with a blanket of white. Streets became slushy. Shopkeepers were out with their shovels trying to keep clear a path to their doors. And the snow kept falling. The plows couldn’t keep ahead of it. Consequently, the traffic nearly came to a standstill. Businesses closed early and people did their best to get home before nightfall.

By the next morning bustling New York was a totally different city. Abandoned cars were buried. Nothing on wheels could move. Skiers glided gracefully down Park Avenue. The most striking transformation, however, was the silence. The only sounds were muffled voices and the ringing church bells. People listened because they couldn’t help themselves. And our world rarely listens anymore—whether in New York or Toronto, London or Los Angeles, Sydney or Singapore—unless a crisis of sufficient magnitude thrusts a wrench into the wheels of our high-speed, technological society and forces us to a standstill.

Night falls on Christmas Eve. The
last shop closes. All the hullabaloo
stops–for one brief day.

Except, perhaps, as Buechner points out, at Christmas time when it’s hard not to stop and listen. Business increases to a frenzied pace. Canned carols blast out over the din of traffic. Bells jingle. Red-robed Santas freeze in Chicago, while their counterparts fry in Melbourne. Then, suddenly, night falls on Christmas Eve. The last shop closes. All the hullabaloo stops. Everything is silent—for one brief day.

This year don’t miss the silence. Take time to listen. Be still and hear the true message of Christmas which, above all, is a call to remember that God has not forgotten us, but is vitally involved in the affairs of mankind. Two thousand years ago he came to earth in person to save us from our sins.

So as Christmas rapidly approaches, may I encourage you to pause for just a moment and hear God’s Word: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, ‘God with us.’"1

And again, "An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’"2

One of the great tragedies of our time is not that God has forgotten us, but that we have forgotten him.

On the same day that Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian-born Nobel Prize winner, was presented with the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion by HRH Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace, he addressed many of Britain’s leading political and religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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