December 20, 2009
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
Back in the early 1700s, when the United States wasn't, and what was, was known as "the colonies," the settlers in Williamsburg, Virginia, celebrated Christmas.
But they did their festivities without many of the customs you and I take for granted.
So, what were some of the things they were missing?
First, there was no Santa, sleigh, reindeer, or elves. That's because Santa was primarily and, note I say, primarily, a Dutch tradition.
The settlers didn't decorate their Christmas trees because they didn't have them. Christmas trees, a German custom, hadn't yet shown up in that community.
The colonists set out no nativity manger scene -- a tradition that originates in Italy -- and the idea of hanging your stockings by the chimney with care -- well, that's an American idea that would come much later.
So what did those settlers from long ago do to celebrate Christmas? Simple, they set off fireworks and shot off cannons. Their Christmas may not have looked like your Christmas, but nobody -- and I mean nobody -- would have been able to miss the celebration.
This coming Christmas Day, as you look around your neighborhood, you will see many different ways of celebrating the birth of the Savior.
Some folks will make merry by hanging a multitude of lights on their house; others will mark Christmas with family visits, and yet others will have an un-celebration filled with untoward and improper partying.
In all probability your merriment will not involve the use of fireworks and cannons, although I am sure, somewhere that form of festivity is still commonplace.
No matter how you celebrate this week, I pray the Savior's birth is the central focus of your festivities. After all, it is His birth we remember. It is His life, which was given as the ransom necessary to save ours. Please, give thanks for the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem, the Christ of the cross, and the Savior of the empty tomb.
From a devotion originally written for "By the Way"
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, may the celebration of Your birth include You. Your earthly ministry is that which saves our souls. Beginning in Bethlehem, Your work took You to a cross and empty tomb. May we give thanks for You -- You who are God's great and gracious Gift. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries