1 John 5:11 God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
Romans 12:11-13 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
So this is Christmas!
We have been out shopping for weeks now, and the pile of presents has grown around the tree. Some of our Jewish friends have Christmas trees and give Christmas gifts. Our atheist friends have Christmas trees and piles of gifts under the tree.
Have you ever tried to explain Christmas to a child who long ago lost faith in anything? A child let down by the people in his life, and hurt by life? I believe, but not everyone has had a life that they can believe in much of anything. We adopted our youngest, from foster care when he was 14. He mocked our Christmas traditions, but he took the presents
Maybe you are asking yourself where is Christ in this thing called Christmas.
Before you chuck the entire holiday, let me share a little bit about our traditions, as I did with our son.
As a child, my favorite thing about Christmas was…the tree. An evergreen tree pointing straight up to heaven. A tree that is alive with green, when all the other trees are dead. A green tree that represents eternal life, and is covered with heavenly lights, and a star on the top. The star, of course, represents the star leading the wise men to Jesus. Today we have an angle on the top of our tree, like the angle that announced the coming birth of the Christ child. Or the angle that announced the birth to the shepherds in the field on the night Jesus was born.
We would hear the Christmas story while watching the lights of the tree reflected off of ornaments. We would make our evening prayers by the Christmas tree, bringing our hands together, pointing up to heaven. Even with all the presents mounded around the tree, it was the tree, that was the focus, not because of the sparkle and glitter, but because it represents the eternal nature of God, and the gift of Jesus who came into the world as any other baby, but would give his life for us.
I explained to our son, that no, Santa is not really a man who delivers gifts to everyone around the world in one night. Jolly old St. Nick represents the spirit of giving. Like the Christmas tree, Santa is a symbol. St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra was the original Santa, and he wore a red bishop robe.
St. Nicholas was born of wealthy parents, but orphaned at a young age and left a fortune. He would secretly give gifts to the poor. When he answered the call to ministry, Nicholas gave away all his wealth. But St. Nicholas isn’t the only reason we give gifts.
We also give gifts to each other, as a symbol of the three wise men bringing the baby Jesus gifts. Giving gifts, we share generously with our family and friends, with those in need, and to share our hospitality.