Christmas Eve used to be the time I’d shop for Christmas presente. Now that I’m wiser (observant to Vonnie’s needs) and smarter (shopping on the internet from the comfort of the man-cave desk), I actually cannot wait until the last minute (did it all Wednesday night).
Prior to this and for many years, however, it was the norm to go out by myself on the night before Christmas and hit a store or two at Park City Mall. I tried to be attentive to needs, but since everything was picked-over at the bargain shops and there was less from which to choose, plus I had four children expecting a “bigger-type” gift that did not include socks, clothing or dental floss, I would create the need—“You really needed that, didn’t you?”
Giving gifts to each other seems a bit odd since the origination of Christmas gifts winds its way back to several astronomers who spotted a new star over an old house in the little town of Bethlehem and brought gifts to the Christ-child. Exchanging gifts with family and friends is supposed to remind us of this and should be done filled with the joy of Christ’s coming into the world. But for how many of us is that the thought as we purchase, wrap, deliver and watch kids tear into a present?
Of course, the greatest gift is what was given on that first Christmas. The oft quoted verse says it all—For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). God’s love was so great for the creatures that He created—even the bad ones (which includes all of us because we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God) that He wanted to reach down to us with the very thing that could help us reach up to Him—His Son, Jesus Christ.
It is a gift for the entire world—He loves all the people of the world including the kids—“Red, brown, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” There is no one that God does not love. The “whosoever” is very clear. This gift is available to all who will believe and receive. That last part is key. There is something each one of us must do.
I read the title of a religious article in the Morning Call last Sunday. Actually, there were two that caught my attention. One colleague wrote about who God’s Son was/is—an excellent explanation of God’s truth concerning Jesus. The title of the other article, and I’m ashamed to admit that he’s a fellow minister, was: “There are many paths and ways to God.” This Lutheran pastor wrote: “It does not matter whether a person is Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, None or Done, or with a faith life to be named later . . . It is not that one of these ways is better than the others . . . It is that we, as unique beings, have unique ways of being with the Sacred.” Not true. Jesus’ gift was exclusive—to only those who believe. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by Me,” Jesus said. He’s either a liar, lunatic or He’s Lord—there are no other options—and there are no other ways to Heaven.
Despite Him coming more than 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross 33-years late (the reason for the season), the gift of eternal life was not just for those living during that time period. It is offered to all who believe and receive—But as many as receive Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).
May God grant to you the opportunity and privilege this Christmas of sharing with your loved ones the Good News of the gift that keeps on giving.
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