According to a recent Gallup poll, there are few things that Americans are more united about than celebrating Christmas. Ninety-five percent of Americans celebrate the holiday with even 85 percent of non-religious Americans observing one of the two most important holidays for the Christian faith. But as you might expect, the unity begins to fade as the focus shifts to the story of the manger. According to Pew Research, only 57 percent actually believe the key elements of the Christmas story. Sixty-six percent believe Jesus was born to a virgin, 75 percent believe he was laid in a manger, 67 percent agree angels announced his birth, and 68 percent believe a star guided the wise men to the Messiah.
We have a tradition in our home that was passed down from my family. The last item placed on our tree is a star. Until the last couple of years, it was the youngest in the family that I would pick up, and they would place the star on top of the tree, but that is becoming a challenge -- it is easier for them to pick me up.
Our star is the least attractive ornament on our tree from an aesthetic standpoint. It is about 80 years old, and it is nothing more than a simple star with five old non-government conforming light bulbs. But it is a reminder to us of what Christmas is all about. Christmas should not be about the latest and greatest gadget or gift, but the star that shone into the darkness announcing the light of the world.
In the book of Isaiah, which we've been reading in our two-year journey through the Bible, the prophet predicts the birth of the Messiah over 700 years before Christ was born. The times in which Isaiah delivered the prophecy were dark and challenging. The northern tribes of Israel were about to be carried away captive to Assyria, and an ungodly king, Ahaz, governed Judah. The once-powerful and prosperous nation was in decline, and its future was uncertain.
This prophecy spoke hope of future healing not only to the hurting people in Isaiah's day and the hurting people at the time of Jesus' birth, but it speaks to us today in 2020, a year that has been filled with difficulty and challenge.
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death; upon them a light has shined." (Isaiah 9:2)
Isaiah goes on to write:, "For unto us a Child is born, until us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end..." (Isaiah 9:6)
Jesus, the Light of the World, has pierced the darkness and prevailed over despair, bringing life and light to all who believe, and He is soon to return as King of kings and Lord of lords!