[sorry for the delay in posting articles – started a new job and there’s been little time to blog – PHF]
What do you think of when I say “Christmas time”? Do you think of candy canes, gingerbread men, decorated pine trees, houses lit up at night with twinkling lights? Of all these sorts of images, what excites you the most? What makes Christmas fun and exciting?
I have to be honest, for me I’ve always been thrilled by beautifully wrapped presents. There’s a lot of excitement associated with receiving a gift – the anticipation of waiting to unwrap it, the wondering about what it may contain and the hope that it will be something that I will treasure or cherish for years to come.
What makes a gift really special to you? What makes it memorable for years to come?
I think some of the ways that gifts become really special might include:
- When the giver is someone very important to us
- When it’s obvious that they went out of their way to get us this gift
- When the gift shows us that the giver really cares about us
- When the gift shows that the giver really knows us intimately – they understand what we need and what we value
- When the gift lifts our spirit – makes us happy and joyful each time we see it because it is of such lasting value that we never tire of having it around
Lastly, a real gift is not given out of a sense of obligation or duty, but as a demonstration of love done willingly and voluntarily.
So at Christmas, what are we really celebrating? Is it all about Santa and Snowmen or something else?
In Luke Chapter 2, verses 8 thru 11, it tells us why we celebrate at Christmas:
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
The announcement by the angels tells us a lot in very few words – they were telling the shepherds (and us) that God was granting us a free gift. When Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed between people and God – we broke the only rule that God gave us and we gave up a great relationship with God. Now, God was doing something extraordinary to give us a way to be friends with God again. He didn’t design a checklist of things we need to do, and He didn’t make more rules for us to follow – instead He gave us a free gift.
Here’s what the Bible has to say about that gift:
- Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
- James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
- Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Christmas is about God giving us a gift, and we celebrate the birth of Jesus since his appearance on earth was the start of the plan to give us a way to be reconciled to God. We are so joyful over God’s love for us that we share gifts with each other at Christmas time, but these ought to remind us of the most important gift we could ever receive – God wanting us to be at peace with Him forever.