Bringing the Text to Life

The First Christmas Card Philippians 4:4-9

What is the Christmas message? With excessive commercialization and sentimentalization obscuring its essence, not even the church is always clear about the content of God''s first Christmas card. What should the Church put on its own Christmas greeting?

The first Christmas card, as we know it, was designed in 1843 by the artist J.C. Horsley. It measured about the size of a postcard. From this design, one thousand cards were lithographed and hand-colored three years later for Sir Henry Cole, first director of the South Kensington Museum, London.

The first Christmas card shows a Victorian family celebrating the gentle spirit of the season around a table. They are making a toast to the health and happiness of their family, friends and nation. Flanking the scene of Christmas cheer and celebration is the carrying out of the biblical concern for "Clothing the Naked" and "Feeding the Hungry." A lettered greeting was printed underneath the picture.

The first Christmas card did not set too well with most church folk. It contained too much revelry. And the reminder of benevolence was too graphic and hard-hitting.

But to grasp the first Christmas card is to allow it to be said of us, as it was said of the converted Scrooge at the close of...

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