“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 of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ 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, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:8-14)
Today is the day that Christians around the world celebrate a birthday. We celebrate a birth that happened over 2,000 years ago: the birth of Jesus, the Christ child.
The shepherds, to whom the angel appeared in the fields to announce the birth of Jesus, traveled to Jesus’ birthplace to celebrate His birth and with them they brought Him gifts.
“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
Today, we still carry on the tradition of giving gifts in celebration of Jesus’ birth. But the gifts we give are to each other and are symbolic of those gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh that the three Magi brought to Jesus.
But sometimes the giving and receiving of gifts becomes the focus of Christmas and takes away from the real reason we celebrate this day: we are celebrating a gift that God has given to us.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)
Over 2,000 years ago, God gave us the gift of His son.
Christmas is one of the most festive and family centered holidays of the year for Christians. Everywhere you look you see images of happy families gathered together on Christmas Day. And it is for that reason that Christmas can lead to loneliness and sadness for some.
This is not only the time of the year that we celebrate Christmas but it is the time of the year that we might miss the most the people that we cannot be with. There are many people who, for various reasons, cannot be with their family. Loved ones may have passed away since the last Christmas, a family member might be stationed in the military overseas, while yet others may be estranged from members of their families due to relationship issues.
While being with our immediate family is important, it is more important to remember that we are all part of one big family: the family of God. And no matter who we are, where we are, who has passed before us, or will come after us, we all have one thing in common that binds us as a much larger family: God’s love for us.
So, if today brings you loneliness and the feeling of missing those family members who you love, remember that you are part of a larger family: the family of God. And it is through being a part of His family that our sorrows can be taken away. Because, no matter where we are or who we are missing, we all remain connected together through our hearts and souls by being a part of God’s family.
Today I, like many others, will give and get presents. The presents that I give will be given from my heart. They are not just presents that I bought because I had to, they are presents that I bought out of a desire to share God’s and my love with those around me. And the presents I receive I will also accept with love and gratitude.
But the most special present that I will try to share today is a present that was wrapped in swaddling clothes a few centuries ago. It is a present that, although it was wrapped once a long time ago, can be ours for unwrapping every day of our lives. It is the gift of love that God has shown for me and everyone else through the giving of His son to the world. It is a gift that I accept with true humility and grace.
What can I give back to God for the gift that He gave me over 2,000 years ago and the gifts that He continues to give me every day? For me, I will continue to listen for His whisper and accept His inspiration that He gives me in my writing. By continuing to spread His love and helping to make the part of the world around me a better place, I think I am making a good start in trying to give back to God and I will try to do so not only during the Christmas season but throughout the whole year.
Merry Christmas to all!