Oh what a lovely painting, filled with memories, nostalgia, days gone by and nothing but love. Carolers huddled together singing the songs of the season – warming each other with each verse. A house filled with good food, gifts, a decorated tree and family. All of these things capture Christmas days of long ago. Today we gather in different ways, but the gathering is almost always focused on the little boy in the manger who left His heavenly throne to become one of us – to take our burdens and guilt away so that we could inherit His kingdom.
What is your fondest memory of Christmas Having lived a very full life, I have several of them. Like my dad waiting to purchase the last tree on the lot, so he could get a good deal. Despite the fact that there were only a few branches left, we managed to decorate that sparse evergreen with enough ornaments, lights and tinsel to make it acceptable. There was always the big cardboard box that arrived a couple weeks before Christmas, from our grandparents. The anticipation of opeing that box seemed endless, but when we finally did, there were treasures awaiting inside.
When we started our own family, I can’t help remembering our first Christmas with our almost two year firstborn daughter. Paul had spent the preceding four weeks building and crafting a beautiful dapple grey rocking horse for our little one. Right up until Christmas Eve, he was putting the finishing touches on it. Our little girl woke the next morning with a bad cold. She looked like a little glazed donut, but she was so excited to meet her new friend.
There was the Christmas after our third child was born. Our five year old son was so enamored with his baby sister and was very cognizant of all the beautiful Christmas hymns being sung about the baby, Jesus. It became aparent to him that one song in particular was meant exclusively for our baby girl, named Joy, as the lyrics stated, “Joy, full of cord.”
There were the many celebrations when we had substantial income and when we were barely getting by. The times we didn’t know if there would be any gifts. Through all those times the focus wasn’t on the gifts, but the real gift that came so long ago in Bethlehem.
For many this time of year causes great depression, because of lost loved ones, unrequited love, separation, illness, no jobs, desperation and so much more. Our emotions often become heightened during this time, because we feel cheated in some way. No matter what difficulties you may be going through right now, no matter what condition your mental, spiritual or physical health is in, remember this. Jesus could’ve zapped every one of our sins away in an instant – without going through what He did – but He chose to show the world His unconditional love, by humbling Himself, living in poverty and suffering a torturous death. The best part is, He didn’t stay dead. He came back to life. Just as we will when we die. You can count on it.
Matthew 1:23 ESV “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Which means, God with us.)