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Reminders of spirit take many forms

Christmas brings gifts, goodies, cookies and music.

Wednesday, December 01, 1999

Christmas brings gifts, goodies, cookies and music. But with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season taking up so much free time, it can be difficult to remember the true reason for the season.

"The first thing I think of is reading the Bible," Christ United Methodist pastor Glen Herman said. "Also, there is a small picture storybook in several different versions of Santa kneeling at the manger in humble adoration of the Christ Child."

The picture represents St. Nicklaus, an early Christian Saint who earned his position by doing good deeds for several different people in a variety of ways, Hermon explained.

"He was the first Secret Santa, I suppose," he said. "That is a very good way to put together the normal holiday preparations and the adoration of the birth of Jesus Christ."

To keep the spiritual side of Christmas alive during the sometimes frustrating, and often hectic, Yuletide time, daily devotional readings can be a solid source of focus.

"There are daily devotional books which can be purchased at any Christian bookstore, too," Herman said. "There are different books for each denomination, but ‘Our Daily Bread’ which is published by Radio Bible Class is a nondenominational book."

Lawrence County Christian families of any faith are not the only ones who might strive to keep spirituality in the holiday season. Sometimes, a reminder can come at the most unexpected of places, Herman pointed out.

"I’ve noticed some of the fast food restaurants have had real Christian decorations at Christmastime," he said. "It’s an idea that can be carried over into the home. Instead of secular decorations, the restaurants used pictures from the Bible, the Nativity, angels, and things like that."

Although angels and other Biblical pictures and decorations can help bring a more spiritual meaning back into the holiday, the most important focus should be Jesus, he said.

"I would want to keep emphasizing Jesus as the main focus," he said. "Angels can mean lots of different things to lots of different people, but if the angles are there at the manger, they are obviously there to worship Him."

One of the more trendy ways to add a bit of religious flavor to a home’s holiday decor, thereby centering the celebration around the Christ Child rather than commercialism, are available, too.

"The popular house flags that can be purchased just about anywhere these days also come specifically in Christian pictures," he said. "I have seen scenes that depict Christ in the manger and Mary holding the Baby Jesus."

For a more traditionally spiritual option, Advent wreaths and candles can become a new family tradition that will offer meditation and celebration of Jesus’s birth.

"On the Advent wreaths, there are four colored candles around a circle with one on the inside that is usually a taller white candle that represents Christ," Herman explained. "Beginning four Sundays before Christmas, light one candle each Sunday."

Traditionally, each candle symbolizes a different aspect of the

spirituality of the season.

"Different books on the subject are available at any Christian bookstore," Herman said. "There are usually readings or devotions for each candle lighting, such as hope, joy and peace."

Churches often celebrate lighting the final candle on Christmas Eve in a special service, during which each member of the congregation lights a candle from the Christ candle.

No matter what denomination, the reason for the Christmas holiday is one of caring, giving, rebirth and dedication to a better way of life, he said.

To keep these things in mind is to truly celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus, Herman said.