Louis Cassels — There was a man who lived…

There was a man who lived in a small farming community. The man did not believe in the Christmas story. He thought the whole idea strange and illogical. But one wintery night, birds and church bells changed the man’s life forever. On a snowy Christmas Eve, this man observed birds thumping into his window apparently seeking refuge from the winter storm. He felt compassion for the birds and decided to help. The man knew his barn would be a safe refuge for his cold, feathered friends, but enlisting the birds’ cooperation became quite a challenge. With the barn doors wide open and lights burning, he first tried to lead the birds to safety. No luck. Then, he tried shooing them toward the door. Still, no luck. Finally, he placed breadcrumbs along the path to the barn, but he birds still refused to cooperate. He thought, “If only I could lead these lost creatures to safety.” At that very moment the church bells rang…and the man understood. He knew why God came to earth, and he understood the truth of the Christmas story. God became man so that He might lead us to salvation.
Louis Cassels

Martin Luther — There are some of us who think to ourselves…

There are some of us who think to ourselves, “If I had only been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby. I would have washed His linen. How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord lying in the manger!” Yes, we would say that because we know how great Christ is, but if we had been there at that time, we would have done no better than the people of Bethlehem…Why don’t we do it now? We have Christ in our neighbor.
Martin Luther

Bonnie DeArmonds — Each year after Thanksgiving…

Each year after Thanksgiving, Bonnie DeArmond and her family planned their annual Christmas “Ring and Run” celebration. First, the DeArmonds gathered together and began making a large assortment of homemade gifts. Then, when presents filled the dining room table to overflowing, each family member chose friends who would be the recipients of these gifts. Then, the fun began. On one special evening, the normally mild-mannered DeArmonds carried out a covert operation. With gifts in hand, they climbed into their family van. As they approached the targeted home, the van lights went dark and the side door quietly opened to let Sterling, Meagan, or Schaeffer sneak to the house. A gift was placed at the front door, the bell was rung, and the child raced back to the waiting van. Ring and run. Bonnie and family were far down the road before the friends discovered their gifts. After completing the drop-offs, the DeArmonds returned home to await the inevitable calls from delighted friends. Bonnie and her family made Christmas memories as they shared the gift of friendship.
Bonnie DeArmonds

Giovanni da Fiesole — I salute you…

I salute you.  I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.  There is nothing I can give you which you have not already; but there is much, very much, which though I cannot give it, you can take.  No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today.  Take heaven.  No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this precious little instant.  Take peace.  The gloom of the world is but a shadow.  Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.  There is radiance and courage in the darkness could we but see it; and to see, we have only to look.  Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their coverings, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.  Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, and wisdom, and power.  Welcome it, greet it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence.  Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys.  They, too, conceal diviner gifts.  Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.  Courage, then, to claim it, that is all!  But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims wending through unknown country our way home.
And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greeting, but with profound esteem now and forever.
The day breaks and the shadows flee away.
This old Christmas greeting from a letter written between 1387-1455 by Giovanni da Fiesole (Fra Angelico)

Henry Van Dyke — Are you willing to stoop down…

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children;
To remember the weakness, the loneliness of people who are growing old;
To stop asking how much your friends love you and ask yourself whether you love them enough;
To bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in their hearts;
To try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you?
Then you can keep Christmas.
And if you can keep it for a day, why not always?
But you can never keep it alone.
Henry Van Dyke

Ann Landers — An attorney I very much admired…

An attorney I very much admired once said that the greatest gift he ever received in his life was a note his dad gave him on Christmas.  It read, “Son, this year I will give you 365 hours.  An hour every day after dinner.  We’ll talk about whatever you want to talk about.  We’ll go wherever you want to go, play whatever you want to play.  It will be your hour.”  That dad kept his promise and renewed it every year.
Ann Landers

Unknown — There was a gift for each of us…

There was a gift for each of us left under the tree of life 2000 years ago by Him whose birthday we celebrate today.  The gift was withheld from no man.  Some have left the packages unclaimed.  Some have accepted the gift and carried it around, but have failed to remove the wrappings and look inside to discover the hidden splendor.  The packages are all alike:  In each is a scroll on which is written, “All that the Father hath is thine.”  Take and live!
Unknown

Helen Keller — Christmas is the harvest time of love…

Christmas is the harvest time of love.  Souls are drawn to other souls.  All that we have read and thought and hoped comes to fruition at this happy time.  Our spirits are astir.  We feel within us a strong desire to serve.  A strange, subtle force, a new kindness, animates man and child.  A new spirit is growing in us.  No longer are we content to relieve pain, to sweeten sorrow, to give the crust of charity.  We dare to give friendship, service, the equal loaf of bread and love.
Helen Keller