What Christmas is all about

In 1944, in the midst of World War II, some 3,500 prisoners of war at Dachau, 10 miles from Munich, Germany, made a formal request that Pastor Martin Neimoller be allowed to preach to them at Christmas. Reluctantly, permission was granted.

Had you been in his place, what would you have preached on to those soldiers in that concentration camp, away from their homes and families? Martin Neimmoller took his text from Matthew’s Gospel: “His name shall be called Emmanuel (which means God with us).”

Listening to Pastor Neimoller’s Christmas sermon, the soldiers at Dachua realized that Christ was with them there in that concentration camp as never before in their lives.

And as Christ was with those prisoners of war at Dachau in 1944, he is with our fighting men and women today in Afghanistan, Iraq—throughout the world and is also present with each of us.

Every Christmas, for as many years now we have watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” it never grows old. Year after year our hearts are touched and tears of joy well up in our eyes when at the very end amidst all the confusion, Charlie Brown asks in bewilderment, “Does anybody know what Christmas is all about?”

There is total silence. Then Linus steps out and says, “I know what Christmas is all about.” He calls out to the crew, “Lights!” And standing there in the blazing spot he speaks:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night. And an angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were filled with fear.

“But the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you, you will fined the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.’

“That, Charlie Brown, is what Christmas is about.”

May God bless each of you this Christmas, your home and family and all of those you love. May it be the most meaningful Christmas ever as Christ is born anew in all of our hearts.

Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he served as senior minister for 23 years. He writes a column for several newspapers.

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2009-12-24 digital edition

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