Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lesson Learned From Christmas

16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

When I first became a Christian I made a resolution to never give Christmas gifts. I saw the gift giving as materialistic and a distraction from the gospel story of God incarnate. Thus, for a long time, I refused to give gifts on Christmas. If anything, the ONE gift I would share, especially with my family, was the gospel message.

Somehow, through the years, this resolution of not giving Christmas gifts was broken, but I lived in denial. I would say to myself every year, "I am not giving Christmas presents next year!" Yet, when it came down to it, I was actually scrambling at the last minute finishing up a blanket here and there, and I would actually do last minute shopping and go way over budget in December.

The end of 2006 was not any different in my gift giving habit except I finally came to the realization that DearHubby and I like to give gifts and Christmas time gives us the perfect excuse and time to give a gift to someone. Therefore, I finally came out of living in this denial and accepted the fact that we are gift givers and instead of waiting until the end of the year to prepare these gifts, we would prepare and purchase gifts throughout the year and even budget for our gift giving. That way, we can look out for sales and get the best deals and we don't have to go way over budget in December. It's just a matter of thinking ahead.

I came to this realization because I missed out on Christmas this season. My mind was focused on the gift giving part of Christmas, the part that I had resolved earlier in my Christian life I would never do, and I missed the whole gospel message of God incarnate because my mind was too distracted. Thus, I have resolved once again not to get distracted by the gifts. However, I like the idea of gift giving because it exemplifies the gift God gave to us, His friends and family, during Christmas. He gave us His love in Himself and that is such a wonderful example to represent at Christmas time.

A friend posted this on her blog and it is actually from Chris Rice's site and I thought I would post this too. Though it is past Christmas, the Christmas story should be fresh on our thoughts each day:

Christmas Simple
Ah, Christmas. Traditions. Memories. Music. I remember in my childhood, every year at the Christmas Eve candlelight service at the church in Maryland, and I mean EVERY year, Otis played his saxophone. It was always the same song. Something about shepherds, but I don’t really remember the name of the song.

Those lucky shepherds got to hear real angels sing. I’m jealous.

I’ve been in the hills around Bethlehem where it probably happened. Looked around, stared at the sky, tried to imagine what angels sound like. Makes me think of that Christmas carol, “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing!” My favorite line in the song, which summarizes what Christmas means, is this: “God and sinners reconciled.”

I like to simplify things. “God and sinners reconciled” is as simple as it can be stated. To “reconcile” means to restore friendship.

That’s what I’m celebrating, a friendship restored. A friendship that needed serious restoration. How serious? Serious enough that the Almighty would fold Himself down to the size of a human embryo and begin a life, at the mercy of this planet, that would lead to a hefty sacrifice some thirty years later. A necessary sacrifice. A sacrifice that would take away my enemy-ness, and make me and God friends again. Me and God, friends.

Snow is nice, lights are pretty, pine trees smell good, hearing Linus read Luke 2 makes me smile, seeing Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed smooch makes my heart pound, and watching the parade down Franklin’s Main Street turns me into a big kid.

But the big deal, really, is that I am God’s friend again. Reconciled.

It's simple.

Merry Christmas.

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