Fifty years ago, in December 1973, renowned evangelist Rev. Billy Graham led a presidential Sunday morning Christmas service at the White House.
Graham and President Richard Nixon had long enjoyed a warm friendship, and Graham was a regular guest at the White House. A program from Dec. 16, 1973, indicates that after introductory remarks from Nixon, Graham delivered a Christmas message on “The Deeper Meaning of Christmas” between carols performed by the U.S. Army Chorus.
In his sermon, Graham touched upon three significant aspects of the Christmas story: the cradle, the cross, and the crown as symbols of the transformative power of Christ’s birth, life, and future reign. His words doubtless resonated with his listeners in Washington, D.C., that day, and they continue to inspire hearts and minds around the world.
“First the cradle,” said Graham. “On that first Christmas night, the Bible tells of the angel who said to the fearful shepherds, ‘Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.’”
Incredible and unbelievable as it may appear to some modern minds, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was a visitor from outer-space – He was God incarnate! That virgin-born baby was God in human form. He humbled Himself… What a difference the baby born in Bethlehem’s manger two thousand years ago has made in our world. The educational systems He has inspired, the social reforms that His teachings have instituted, and the transformation of families and lives and nations.
Secondly, there is the cross. Christmas, to have meaning, cannot be separated from the cross. The angel said at the birth of Jesus, ‘He shall save His people from their sins.’ … The central message of Christmas is that Jesus Christ by His death and resurrection can transform both individuals and society… The cross and the resurrection stand as man’s only hope…
Thirdly, the crown. There is more to Christmas than the cradle and the cross… At the cradle He was in the stall of an animal. At the cross He wore a crown of thorns. But when He comes again it will be as the Commander-in-Chief of the armies in Heaven. He will take control of this war-weary world and bring the permanent peace we strive for and long for. A new world will be formed. A new social order will emerge . . . This is God’s gift of Christmas. The cradle – His Son. The cross – His life. The crown – His coming Kingdom. But… a gift, to be complete, must be received!”
NRB has truly experienced God’s goodness in 2023. We are grateful to have welcomed 113 new members this year who have chosen to walk with us as a community of Christian communicators, and we look forward to gathering in February with the entire NRB family at the 2024 NRB International Christian Media Convention.
May your celebrations be filled with peace and hope as we look to the cradle, the cross, and the crown of Jesus. From our families to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas.
NRB Today will break for the holidays on Thursday, December 21 and Thursday, December 28. NRB’s offices will be closed on December 25-26 and January 1.