December 23, 2022 — A Christmas Gift Remembered

“This time of the year,” Stan commented, “always brings back a lot of memories of Christmas. Some good, some not so good.”

“Better to focus on the good, don’t you think?” I replied.

“You’re absolutely right,” Stan said. “And I was doing that the other night when I was telling a neighbor a story about when I was a child, probably about ten or eleven years old.”

“What was that?” I asked.

“Where I grew up on the farm,” Stan replied, “we lived quite a distance from the nearest town. Each year when Christmas was a couple of weeks away, the whole family would drive to town together to do our Christmas shopping.”

“All in one day?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Stan replied, “things were different then. Only a few stores. No on-line shopping. Just go to town with the family and shop until we were done.”

“Each one of the kids,” he continued, “would save money throughout the year in order to buy gifts for the rest of the family on the day we went to town to do our Christmas shopping.”

“That seems like a good approach to teaching stewardship, generosity, and gift-giving,” I replied.

“It was,” Stan said, “but the year I was remembering and telling my neighbor about had a different meaning.”

“How so?” I asked.

“That particular year,” Stan said, “I had been selfish and I had not saved any money.  As the day to go Christmas shopping got closer, I got more miserable.  I didn’t know what I was going to do.  I had nothing with which I could buy any gifts and I certainly didn’t have a credit card! I was going to have nothing to give, and I was miserable.”

“Did you tell your parents what was going on?” I asked.

“I did not,” Stan said, “I didn’t want to admit I had been so foolish and spent everything on myself without thinking about anyone else.  However, my parents somehow knew my predicament.”

“Parents can be good at that,” I commented with a smile. “So what happened?”

“What happened,” Stan replied, “is something about Christ and Christmas that I did not fully appreciate until I became a Christian many years later.”

“What was that?” I asked.

“As the family was getting in the car to head to town,” Stan replied, “my dad said he wanted to talk to me.  With a bit of fear, I went up to him ready for what he might say. The only thing he said as he handed me some money was that he hoped I would have a good time buying Christmas presents for the family.  He had given me more than enough money to buy Christmas gifts for everyone!”

“You must have been relieved by that,” I commented.

“You, my friend, are a master of the understatement!” Stan replied with a smile. “I was so happy and relieved with what my dad did, I was almost floating on air the whole day while we were Christmas shopping.  I was able to buy a gift for everyone in the family. I even had enough left over to buy a gift for my teacher.”

Continuing, he added, “As I became a Christian and have realized the magnificence of God’s free and gracious gift of Christmas, I have come to see my dad’s gift to me as a reflection of God’s provision.”

“Was your dad a Christian?” I asked.

“No, he wasn’t,” Stan replied, “but as I have reflected on my dad’s gift to me that allowed me to buy presents for others, I have seen that God can use anyone to show someone else His grace and mercy.”

“The point of Christmas,” he continued, “is God’s free and gracious gift of Christ. That gift flowed and continues to flow out of His love.  I didn’t know that truth as a child who had nothing to give, but I know it now and it’s at the heart of everything.”

Concluding, Stan said, “Merry Christmas, my friend.  Remember the glorious truth of Christmas that we all had nothing, but we were given everything.”

__________________________________

Bible verses to consider:

And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all of the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a savior, who is Christ the Lord.  Luke 2:10 – 11.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  John 3:16.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him. Matthew 7:11.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the gift of Christmas. Through your provision of Christ who came into the world as a child, I have the assurance of life eternally with you when it’s time. As well, I have the gift of being able to pursue knowing you and Jesus more deeply while you keep me on this side of eternity. All of your provision flows out of your love, grace, and mercy for which I thank you! Please help me in sharing all you have given with every person you bring before me so they, too, can claim all of your provision. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this:  Christmas is filled with memories for all of us.  When you think about Christmas, what comes to your mind? Do you have the memory of when Christ was  born in you so that you have the assurance of salvation and redemption?  If no, why have you not created that memory?  If you do not know the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas, do you know how to find out? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, is there more you need to know about why Jesus came into the world and what He wants to do in and through you? If so, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

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