Pastor's Pen

Capturing Christmas

Pastor Darrell Johns

Christmas is a time for making memories that will last a lifetime. In the home where my siblings and I grew up, our Mom still has stacks of photo albums filled with family pictures. They include dozens of Christmases that were captured on film and printed on glossy paper. Past events come back to life when you revisit them through pictures.

Now that photography has gone digital, and smart phones have high-quality cameras built in, the number of pictures taken is mind-boggling. InfoTrends reported that 1.2 trillion images were captured globally by cameras and smart phones in 2017. That is roughly 160 pictures for every one of the approximately 7.5 billion people inhabiting planet earth. There are easily 5 trillion stored digital images, with that number increasing daily.

Historically, before the advent of photography, significant events were captured through stories. Each generation kept significant memories alive by telling their stories to the next generation. In biblical times, keeping faith alive meant capturing the exploits of God on behalf of Israel, first in story form, and then as a written record. The stories were told and retold to each succeeding generation. (See Psalm 78:1-5.) History was captured for future generations.

As the story of Jesus’ birth unfolded, his mother, Mary, savored the moments, saving them for the future when they would bring her comfort and peace. Mary captured Christmas. When the shepherds came to see the newborn Christ, the Bible says, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Mary would need the strength of those memories when she was misunderstood and maligned by those who accused her of immorality. She would hold on to the picture of Jesus’ magnificent birth as she witnessed the pain of His agonizing death. The images Mary pondered and kept in her heart gave her proper perspective, and provided strength as she faced the time when a sword pierced through her own soul. (See Luke 2:35.)

As Christians, we need to capture Christmas. I’m not talking about video footage or digital images. I’m referring to the images of that first Christmas. Capture the story of a young Jewish woman great with child, the Messiah that was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Picture that baby born in a barn and laid in a manger because there was no room for His family in the inn. Relive the sight of shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, experiencing an angelic visitation and then a chorus of angels announcing the birth of Jesus Christ. It would do us well to rehearse the events of that silent night when God became flesh and dwelt among us. Then, as you capture Christmas, make sure to make the connection between the baby in the manger and the man who carried our sins to the cross. Let’s capture Christmas!

We should not be naïve about those who would delete the original images of Christmas. Remember that King Herod tried to kill the first Christmas. In our culture, those who oppose Christianity actively work to undermine the biblical Christmas replacing it with holiday traditions that have no connection to God and the Bible.

This year, please make it a priority to capture Christmas. Make memories with your family and friends. Take lots of pictures. Pause and make time to tell the Christmas story in all its wondrous simplicity and splendor.