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23 December, 2012

The First Christmas

In the words of J.R Miller in 1910


How did the world come to have a Christmas? God gave it to us. It was his gift. The story is told in the Now Testament. There is one great verse which tells how it came: "God so loved the world—that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish—but have everlasting life." Christmas thus began in the heart of God. The world did not ask for it—it was God's own thought. We love—because he first loved us. All the love that warms and brightens this old earth—was kindled from the one heavenly lamp that was lighted the first Christmas night. The Child that was born that first Christmas—was the Son of God. God so loved the world—that he gave his one and only Son.

Think of the beginning—how small it was. It was only a baby, a baby among the poor. Think where the baby was born—in a stable, with the cattle all about. Think where the baby slept its first sleep—in a little box, out of which the cattle ate their fodder. All the circumstances were lowly and humble on the earth side.  

The first Christmas did not mean much in the world. Its influence did not reach out far. A little company of lowly shepherds, keeping their watch in the fields, were the only people outside who heard of the wonderful event, and came to look at the new-born Child. The first Christmas touched the shepherds with its wonder, and with its holy sentiment. But with this exception, the great world slept on that night—as if nothing was happening! The world does not know its greatest hours—nor mark its most stupendous events.

Within the lowly cattle-shed, where the Baby lay—there was nothing which at that time seemed unusual. There was no divine splendor, such as we would expect to see in the face of one who was the Son of God. The only light, was the shining of love in the peasant mother's face. When the shepherds came in, all that they saw was a newborn baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger; and a quiet couple, Mary and Joseph, bending over it in tender love. Yet that was the beginning. It was a real Christmas.