As you drive west on the Atlantic City Expressway you come upon three signs which read “Stay Alert,” “Stay Awake,” “Stay Alive.” Those words are reasonable and prophetic. They are reasonable because they are words of caution compelling us to obey the driving laws and the laws of nature in order to protect ourselves and others. They are prophetic because to disobey the laws can lead to a horrible catastrophe.
In this Christmas season those same words have real relevance for us. They are a clarion call to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Messiah. How do we do that? Perhaps the words of Jesus give us an inkling. He said, “Unless you become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” If you really want to understand Christmas, look to the little children. The weeks leading up to Christmas for them just seem like an eternity. They’ve made their lists. They’ve visited Santa and in their simplicity they asked for the things they desire in the sure and certain hope that Santa will meet their dreams. They are alert, awake, fully alive and anxious. And Santa will grant their dreams.
As grown ups we are deluged in this season by the commercialism of the time. The sending of Christmas cards, the purchase of “the right” gifts, the preparation of the dinners and Christmas parties, the planning of visits, these and so many other things can divert us from preparing for the birth of Jesus. It is only if we stay alert and stay awake like little children that the birth of the Messiah will come alive for us.
Remember, it was not those in Bethlehem caught up in revelry who were invited to the crib. It was the simple, humble shepherds awake in the fields who were called by the angels to witness the birth of the Savior. We, too, are called. Now it is our turn to come and worship the Lord with that same simple, humble faith and, like the shepherds, to glorify and praise God.
It is the hope and prayer of the members of the Hammonton Ministerium that this Christmas will be a day of joy, remembrance, hope and faith for you and your loved ones.