Many years ago, my daughter bought me a Christmas gift that has continued giving delight for over 3 decades. She had heard me exclaim over various Christmas villages that I had seen in store windows, as I love looking that the buildings, the people, and the activities that they were doing in their snowy worlds.
She and my husband happened to be shopping when she saw a Christmas Village set. Once she laid eyes on it, my husband knew that we were going to have a Christmas village in our home. They bought the set and gave it to me as an early present that year, and it has been on display during the Christmas season ever since. We even call it “Lindaville”.
Every year since that initial purchase, we have added new buildings, accessories, and scenery reflecting our interests. Here are some of the additions to Lindaville that we have incorporated into the village over the years.
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, the volunteers taking care of the animals at the shelter. I love watching the children in the playground on the see-saw going up and down under the blinking lights on the playground trees.
I wonder what they are doing, thinking, planning, enjoying, fearing. And, when we are ready to turn the lights off for the night, I jokingly tell my husband that the parents of the children making snow angels should be contacted since the children ought to be in bed at that time of night!
But then, as we ourselves go to bed and turn off the house lights, I think about not just the ceramic village but of our real friends and family who are far away. What are they 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 where there often are frowns. It brings out 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 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, 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.”
This is the Christ who has provided salvation to those who believe on His Name.
Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
What is the best present to get at Christmas? It is the gift that has already been given … no strings attached … free to all who believe.
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 have accomplished over the past several weeks. However, I pray that we have had as our priority the worship of the One who was born so long ago, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, and may we have taken the time to be still before Him, casting our cares upon Him and giving Him our love and adoration.
Christmas day has come and gone for 2015. The ceramic people in the village are doing the same things they were doing ever since we put the village up. They are static and cannot change.
In contrast, 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 season?
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. I praise you and honor you, and I thank you for the saving grace extended to me and all those who call upon your name. In Jesus Holy and Wonderful Name, I pray.