Many years ago, my daughter gave me a Christmas gift that has brought delight for over 3 decades.
I had always loved looking at Christmas villages in the store and once my daughter laid eyes on it, it was a foregone conclusion – that was going to be her present to me that Christmas. Mom was going to have a Christmas village. They presented me with an early Christmas present that year and it has been on display during the Christmas season ever since. We even call it “Lindaville”. I am, of course, the Mayor (an uncontested race!) and my husband is all the other officials of the village, including the Utility Board, the Village Land Planner and the Village Building and Architect (he takes the building out of the boxes each year, creates the cityscape and foundation for the village, and then he sets up the electronics for lighting, animated accessories, etc.).
Needless to say, she had no idea what she started when she first pointed to that village display. Every year since that initial purchase, we have added new buildings, accessories, and scenery reflecting our interests.
On a quiet evening, I sit and stare at the village, imagining the people in their houses, the business people at work, the craftsmen delivering the goodies from the bakery. Of course, the people in the village are ceramic – they can’t actually think or do anything. I understand that, but my thoughts move from the pretend village to that of my town, my country, my world. What are my family and friends doing, thinking, planning, enjoying, fearing?
We often respond to the inquiry “How are you, today?” with a quick “Fine, thank you.” or “Okay.” or “Better than I deserve.” But we seldom take down the façade and let others see us as we really are – perhaps hurting physically, perhaps in pain because of harsh words spoken by someone we love, perhaps fearful over concerns about health, perhaps in fear of the mail in January when the bills for the presents purchased will arrive and we know the income will not be sufficient to pay them all. The list could go on and on and is as varied as there are people.
The Christmas season brings out smiles and acts of generosity when penny-pinching is the norm at other times of the year. It provides occasions for us to don our holiday sweaters and our holiday ties, we put on the bright jewelry and party vests, and we polish up our smiles that hide our real hurts and concerns. But for many it is a very difficult, painful time.
The Good News, however, is that the Christmas season is a giant birthday party for the One born over two thousand years ago, in a Bethlehem manger. This One is the Son of God and He does not need to ask: “What are they doing?” He already knows exactly what we are doing, and He even knows why we are doing it! This One has come to show us the Way out of our crushing fear, our overwhelming struggle as we seek to run from our problems, and our continual convicting awareness of our sin and guilt before God.
Indeed, this is the Christ whose birth was announced along with the admonition not to fear and to be at peace!
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. … Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:10 and 14.
This is the Christ who told His disciples:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
This is the Christ who said, after His resurrection:
As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”
This is the Christ of whom it was written:
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
What is the best present to receive this Christmas? It is the gift that has already been given … no strings attached … free to all who believe on Jesus’ Name.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Babe who was born in that Bethlehem manger became our atoning sacrifice on the cross.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
This gift, when accepted, gives peace with God, fellowship with other Christians, a life with the Holy Spirit guiding and securing your steps as you are transformed into the image of our Savior.
What are we doing this Christmas season?
I am confident that there are a bunch of activities that we will have on the agenda. However, I pray that we will have as our priority the worship of the One who was born so long ago, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, and may we take the time to be still before Him, casting our cares upon Him and giving Him our love and adoration.
I pray that God’s Gift that we celebrate at Christmas will energize us to worship Him, study His Word, praise Him, and witness to others of His love, mercy and grace.
So, what are you doing this Christmas?
Father, may I honor and worship you throughout the year, not just at Christmas, and may I glorify your name in all that I say and do. Accept the gift of my heart and life, Lord, and may I live for you throughout my days, as you give me the grace and mercy to so live.