Think about Christmas. What is it like at your house? My guess is that for most of us Christmas is hectic. I remember one year when my cousins, or maybe it was their dog, knocked over the tree. Although the tree was back up when we arrived, the atmosphere was a little chilly if you know what I mean.
We get so worried about the trimmings of Christmas. For some, everything must be just right. I do not worry about that. I know when Christmas Eve arrives whatever is done will be just fine.
Going to the candlelight service at church is a family tradition. When I was a child I always went to the service with my grandparents and my mother. At that time our service was at 11 p.m. Now, the Akeley Church has an early candlelight service at 5 p.m. that is designed for families. My children and grandchildren go with me. It is such a nice service. I think the intimacy of the small church enhances the atmosphere. Children are invited to participate.
We all go to church then come back here for supper and gifts. We have the traditional Swedish things. I already picked up my potato korv and the herring. Maybe I'll have time to make a rice pudding, too. There will also be ham, potato salad, raw vegetables, and fruit. The children get so excited that they eat in a hurry. Usually by the time the adults finish eating the children are waiting by the tree.
Once the mayhem begins the wrapping paper flies. I wonder why I spend so much time wrapping the gifts. We have gotten better at this since the children are older now. The children actually pass out the gifts, then, we take turns opening them so that everyone sees what others get.
The old saying "it is more blessed to give than to receive" is part of our Christmas. I pick out the gifts carefully and rejoice when the gift has hit the mark. My children are givers as well. My son is so proud of the gifts that he finds. He can hardly wait to give them out. There have been occasions when he does not wait. The year he bought his wife a mixer he gave it early so she could use it for the Christmas cookies.
My daughter and her children have been busy making things. They are anxious to see people open what they made. The youngest one now makes things on his own and wraps them so we never know what we might find inside.
When all is done there may be a gift or two left under the tree that will be delivered another day, but anything with one of the family's name on it is open.
Christmas is about the ultimate gift. When God sent his Son as a baby, it was so much more. Unless you know of Jesus, the grownup, you miss the reason for his coming to earth in the first place.
I remember arguing with a youth pastor once about the importance of Christmas. He maintained that Easter was more important than Christmas. I argued that without Christmas there would be no Jesus and therefore no Savior to die for our sins.
I guess maybe we were both right in a sense. It takes both Christmas and Easter to complete God's plan for saving grace.
God sent his son in human flesh so that all might know him. Just imagine how Mary felt when the angel told her she was about to become the mother of the son of God.
Isaiah 9 prophesied the birth of a child who was to be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace". Jesus came to fulfill that Old Testament promise. Although his life on earth was short, he fulfilled his mission. He came as a helpless infant yet went to the cross to die when he was slightly more than thirty years old to save us from our sins. Yes, he came for all of us because all fall short in the eyes of the Lord.
Can you believe that God loved us that much? The gift of Christmas is the saving grace given by the Lord through the death of his son. All we need to do is ask Jesus to enter our hearts and be our Savior. Many of us are too busy to do that. We put it off hoping to do it at a later date. We leave the gift that God gave unopened.
The Bible says we know not the day or the hour when Christ will return. Could it be soon? Could we get sick or be in a life threatening accident that could take our life even at a young age? We never know. That is why the idea of accepting the gift of Christmas and opening it is so important.
Have you opened the gift that God gave? Do not leave the most important gift of all unopened beneath your tree.
May the Lord be with you throughout the holiday season. Stand tall in your faith extending the blessings of Christmas to all you meet.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org