When my brother and I were around 10 years old, our parents were gone awhile on Dec. 24.
Now, we had some doubts about the Santa coming down the chimney. We went looking in the spare bedroom and found some packages in the closet. Well, we decided to open up “one." You remember the Potatoes chips add? We would open several.
When our parents came home and saw that we had been in the spare bedroom; they were very upset with us. I remember my mother saying, “Those are your Christmas gifts and there are no others!”
On Christmas morning, we went into spare bedroom and got our gifts. You know those gifts never meant as much as I remember from other Christmases.
In the Christmas season that was started with “pre-Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving," we can miss the most important package because we are caught up in all the activities of “material gifts and parties."
Oh, I like those like everyone else, but one memory does stand out about Christmas for me. It is the lighted candles and the sharing the Christmas Story from Luke 2: 3 - 15
“And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (RSV Bible)
In our family, we took turns reading this story of “love” God sent to us in that little town of Bethlehem. In the years since then, I am more inspired about the God’s gift from Isaiah prophecy of the Christ child. One gift of “love” that has been made clear to me comes from Isaiah 53: 4 – 6
“Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
For me, clarity comes from the prophecy of Isaiah about the gift that is given to us by God at Christmas. You and I are blessed by a love so great that His son has taken our brokenness.
You and I shall “rejoice” always for this love gift from God. May each of us find time amidst all the activities of this season to stop and give “praise” and “rejoice” for the immense love that God has offered to us at Christmas.
May this love encompass all of us on Christmas and lift us to take a step forward with God’s love in our hearts rejoicing.