I love Christmas!
from the desk of…
by Philip Swyers, Commissioner –
I love Christmas and all that goes with it! Long lines, long days, feeling as an officer that there is more to do than I can do, but because Jesus became flesh and lives with us, Christmas becomes a joy.
It was a Sunday Christmas Eve in Abilene, Texas, and everything was ready for God’s day. Our corps chapel was packed with people for the wonderful Christmas carol service planned by the then Captain Patricia Swyers. The decorations of Christmas were all around, and there was a warm feeling as we gathered to worship the birth of Christ. New amber colored windows had recently been installed in our chapel, and the candles located on the windowsills glowed through the darkness of the night. The Christmas cantata had begun, and Mrs. Swyers was singing “O Come, O Come Immanuel,” when the door of the corps opened and in walked a stranger.
It was Dr. Townsend who was driving down Chestnut Street and saw the soft glow of the candles on that Christmas Eve. He later said as he drove down the street and saw the Army building with its warm glow, he was strangely drawn to park his car and come inside. He also told us that as a younger man walking the streets of Los Angeles, he had stood at an Army’s open air meeting with its band, good singing, and sound preaching when the Holy Spirit pierced his heart. Soon, a Salvationist was leading him to Christ.
Now, decades later as a professor and one who had served God faithfully through the years, he sat again at the Army praising the Lord for Christ’s birth. Dr. Townsend brought his wife, and the two of them faithfully attended our corps throughout the time we served in that west Texas town.
Oh yes, I love Christmas!
The theme of the Christmas story is God’s divine love for a fallen human race. His love was presented in a tiny package that arrived in Bethlehem one dark, chilly, winter’s night and it was spelled out in one word: Jesus.
Jesus—a simple name with so much power and meaning, but on that night so long ago, the tiny baby wrapped by Mary in swaddling clothes, waving little arms and hungrily sucking a fist, was like any other newborn baby. He was helpless and dependent and Mary was his hope for survival, his nourishment, and his very lifeline. God entrusted his most priceless gift to a very human, very young, and earthly mother. Why? Because God so loved—that he gave. He relinquished his hold on his Son and sent him to minister and eventually to die. His death was no surprise to his Father. It was part of the essential plan and theme that started at Christmas. There was no other way to reconcile each one of us to a holy and just God.
That’s why, on a street meeting long time ago, our friend Dr. Townsend gave his heart to Christ and that’s why you and I do as well..
Why do I love Christmas? Because God came for people like you and me, so that we can celebrate life eternal through a baby who became a man and who became our Savior.
May the joy of Christmas be yours all year long!