Christmas brings new hope and courage, as through the darkness, the Christmas star shines its promise of God’s unfailing Love.


It is not generally known that St. Francis of Assisi was responsible for that popular feature of the Christmas season-the manger scene. It came about because of his longing to make the great truths of the Spirit real to the ordinary person.

Francis loved people, from the great Pope in his palace-and he knew two of them-to the beggars in the streets, the robbers in the mountains, and especially outcasts like the lepers.

Francis loved all creatures too. He loved the birds; most people know the story of how he preached to them as they perched near him, flying away when he dismissed them. He loved the beasts too, even the fierce wolf who terrified the people of Gubbio, Italy, and whom he is said to have tamed. He once begged the Emperor to pass a law that all birds and beasts be given extra food at Christmas, so that they too might have “joy in the Lord.”

As a young man he loved material things as well, especially the beautiful clothes, costly velvets and satins from the shop of his wealthy father, Pietro Bernardone. People tended to wear their wealth on their backs in those days, and Bernardone was happy to see his son, the best-dressed young man in town, leading all the other young people in music and dancing and general carousing-it was all good for business, which he hoped Francis would join him in one day.

But Francis began to find that things as such did not satisfy him. He felt that there must be something more real in the world, and he tried all sorts of ways to find it. He even went to war, but it only brought him imprisonment, and he came home very weak after a serious illness.

But at last he learned that real satisfaction was to be found in loving God and doing what God wanted him to do. He was such an example of this new way of living and demonstrated it so well that people began to follow him. He longed to make God’s truths understandable to them, and one Christmas he had the idea of showing people just what the birth of Jesus must have actually been like, in all its poverty and discomfort.

He found exactly the right place for it-a great pile of rocks on a bleak mountain near the village of Greccio. In a cleft of the mountainside there was a cave, and there he decided to rebuild the Nativity scene. He brought up an ox and an ass, and had the figure of Baby Jesus carved and laid in a manger between them. News of what he was doing spread all over the countryside. Towards the cave on the desolate mountain a steady stream of men, women, and children came by night carrying torches and candles to light their way. At last they were all massed around the entrance to the cave, looking in.

“It seemed like midday,” wrote someone who was there, “during that midnight filled with gladness for man and beast, and the crowds drawing near, so happy to be present for the renewal of the eternal mystery.” Francis himself sang the Gospel story in a voice which was “strong, sweet and clear,” says the observer. “Then he preached to the people, most lovingly, about the birth of the poor King in little Bethlehem.”

So when we see a manger scene at Christmas time, we can remember St. Francis, the “poor little man,” as he used to call himself, who was able to make great truths as real to other people as they were to him.

- Dorothy Prescott


A candymaker in the state of Indiana in the USA wanted to make a candy that would represent God’s Message to us, so he made the Christmas candy cane. In that simple shape, he incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.

He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy-white to symbolize the virgin birth and the sinless nature of Jesus; and hard to symbolize the solid rock of faith and the firmness of the promises of God.

The candymaker made the candy in the form of a “J” to represent the precious Name of Jesus, Who came to Earth as our Savior. It could also represent the staff of the “Good Shepherd” with which He reaches down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs.

Thinking that the candy looked somewhat plain, the candymaker stained it with four red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received, by which we are healed. The single large red stripe was for the blood shed by Him on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.

The candy became known as the candy cane-a familiar decoration seen at Christmas time, though few understand its intended symbolism. For us it can serve as a reminder of the wonder of Jesus coming down at Christmas and His great Love that remains the ultimate and dominant positive force in the universe today.


Even the Christmas tree can be made a witness and a testimony to others, symbolizing the beauty of life and living. In wintertime the evergreen, even in the midst of death and decay, is a symbol of everlasting life. In spite of the hardships of winter, the evergreens survive and stay ever green and continue to be living and beautiful all winter long-just like the Lord!

So make the tree a reminder of Jesus, the Evergreen Tree of the Spirit!-Of Jesus, Son of the everlasting eternal God of Heaven!-Of Jesus and His gifts hung upon us continually, and of our everlasting evergreen eternal life! Let’s never lose the true meaning of Christmas, nor let the true symbolism of the tree and the genuine Christ Spirit of Christmas become drowned in all the confusion of this world and its worldliness. Let’s glorify the Lord at Christmas time!

- David Brandt Berg

On Christmas Eve a hush falls upon the Earth. It is a time when the Spirit of a newborn Child whose Name is Love captures the heart of the world. The way to Christmas lies through an ancient gate, patterned after the gate to a sheepfold and guarded by angels. It is a little gate-child-high, child-wide-and there is a password: I believe in You, Jesus. I receive You, Jesus. May you, this Christmas, become as a little child again and enter into His Kingdom.

- Adapted from Angelo Patri.

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Has the Christ Child come into your heart this Christmas? To have His Love and the happiness and peace He brings, all you have to do is open the door of your heart and invite Him in. He says, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears My voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him (The Bible, Revelation 3:20). Just pray, Jesus, please come into my heart. Please forgive me for my sins and fill me with Your Love as You have promised to do. Thank You for giving me Your new life. Amen.

Once you have asked Him into your life, Jesus will never leave you, and you’ll have Christmas in your heart forever!

The Symbols of Christmas, Copyright © 1998-2012, The Family International