That first Christmas at His wondrous birth in Bethlehem angels sang, “Peace on earth, good will to men.” More than ever this year I see that His birth and Galilee childhood and then His ministry's completion in Jerusalem did purchase peace and good will for all who believe.
On my first trip to Israel as a tourist in 1984, I took a sherut (shared large sedan) from Tel Aviv’s airport at sea level to 2350’ elevation in 42 miles up steep winding curves through Judean mountains to Jerusalem’s shining white limestone city. Comments from passengers from many nations gave interesting first impressions as we entered historic Jerusalem, truly a uniquely different place than any I’ve visited anywhere in the world. I rode a camel at the Dead Sea (hard to do) and later rode a bus north to Galilee. My camera snapped hundreds of pictures but those images are clearly imprinted in my mind and heart without needing Kodak prints or stored digital chips. By my fourth visit I rented a car to organize my own trips and reversed things by going to beautiful Galilee first to the scenes of Jesus’ boyhood and early ministry. For me that chronology works. The young Son-of-God learned much about His Father through scriptures plus parables of local sparrows and foxes and lilies and pearls.
This December more than ever enjoying Christmas leads me to Easter. I’m spending this winter in a small sweet Mississippi town where shopkeepers and clerks unhesitatingly greet us with, “Merry Christmas!” Shoppers reply “Merry Christmas” but I almost add, “Hallelujah, He is Risen!” for in my heart His Easter gift brought the lasting peace and good will the angels sang about.
What makes you sing? What is your best Christmas memory celebration? Please share the special meaning it brings.