For Christians, this time of year can seem like a tug-of-war between the traditions of man vs. the true reason we celebrate Christmas. This morning, on Face Book, a young mother asked a question: “How many Christmas gifts do you give your kids?” Now, I know this may be a struggle for most parents. We want to give all we can afford, and then more with each passing year. But this woman’s question sent me back to the time when I was a young mother, and a new Christian.
It was a year when my husband was overseas. I was left alone with three little boys, very little money, and a broken heart. But I was not the only woman who was alone, so many of us gathered at the military chapel. We sang Christmas carols, and celebrated the birth of Jesus with a Candlelight service. When I sat there in the glow of candlelight, looking at the cross, I felt the true warmth of His love.
Many years later, I traveled to the place where Jesus was born. When I arrived in Bethlehem, I soon learned the city is closed to the biological family of Jesus Christ. There was a large security gate with barbed wire, and a sign telling Jews to “keep out”. Now, Christians are the adopted children of God, so the order “keep out” should apply to all His children. But in spite of the warning, I needed to see the place where our Lord came into this world.
If you ever travel to Bethlehem, you will find a large church called the Church of the Nativity. And after you enter, and follow a long line of people, you walk down a few steps to the cavern of a cave. On the floor you see a gold star, marking the place where Mary gave birth to Jesus. The place has no magical power, but when I knelt on the stone floor and touched the star, I offered myself as a gift to the Christ-child. It was something I’ll never forget.
Now, back to my story about the young mother who was concerned about Christmas gifts: We all understand why we give gifts. It’s because “wise men from the East” came to visit Jesus awhile after he was born. They gave expensive gifts to honor the “King of kings and Lord of lords”. But most of us can never offer our children anything so lavish. When we buy gifts, we want them to know how much we love them. We want them to know the joy of sharing God’s love.
I’m sure you agree, there is no material wealth that compares to the love I have for my children. They were God’s gift to me, just as Jesus was God’s gift to the world. So on Christmas morning, do you want your children to celebrate Santa Clause, and all the gifts he can bring? I recommend you take time to teach your children why we gather around the tree, that beautiful ever-green that represents eternal life.
Merry Christmas to you all! Be blessed, Donna