There are so many ways to celebrate Christmas. It’s different in America than in England, our home. And those of German, Korean, Italian, or other heritage would agree that Americans celebrate Christmas in very different ways from their own countries.
When we first came to live in America, we experienced our first American Christmas soon after arriving. A number of traditions and terms seemed strange to us and the children. For instance, “Father Christmas” became “Santa Claus.” But it was fun seeing Christmas celebrated in a different way.
All these years later, I’m not always sure which terms are English and which are American. But one word I do remember well is visit. Now, in England, a visit doesn’t mean that you just drop by for a while some afternoon. It means to come and stay—most surely overnight and probably several successive overnights.
A couple of weeks after moving here, Stuart said to me, “There are eight or ten people coming to visit.” So, I took a whole day making up that many beds. I thought, How am I going to provide sleeping quarters for all these people? I wonder how long they are coming for?
When Stuart came home, he asked, “What are these beds doing all over the place?” I said, “Well, you said all these people were coming to visit!”
Sometimes I prefer the King James Version of the Bible because the words simply hold more meaning for me. I love the way the song of Zachariah reads in Luke 1:76-79:
“And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest:
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people
by the remission of their sins,
through the tender mercy of our God;
whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
To give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The Dayspring has come to visit us, and this is certainly the English sense of the word. (I knew God was an Englishman all the time!) Jesus came the first time to earth to stay a long overnight—33 years of visiting. He didn’t just drop in; He came with the purpose of staying in the guest room of our lives. Though we often put Him in the “stable,” so to speak, He didn’t come for that reason. He came to stay. He came to settle in.