PASTOR'S PEN: A Christmas lesson

Christmas is not my favorite holiday. OK, I admit it. I prefer Thanksgiving or Easter to Christmas. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle at Christmas time. There’s the rushing around from one event to another and then looking back and wondering if it was worth all that extra effort or if there could have been a simpler way to accomplish what is most important. But there are things I do like about Christmas time. Here’s a few of them:

  • Seeing family. Christmas Eve is when my dad’s side of the family typically gets together. Just about everyone from aunts and uncles to cousins you barely ever see are all there, around 45 to 50 of us at this point. Growing up, when they all came to our house, was sometimes frustrating. But now, as I see many families drifting apart, ours stays together. And I know that, even though we don’t see each other often, we’re all still there for one another.
  • Doing nothing. I have to admit that one of my favorite traditions is on Christmas Day. My mom has worked like crazy for a long month and is ready for a day of lounging. We don’t worry about getting dressed up. We just lay on the couches all day eating Christmas Eve leftovers and gifts of food while watching Christmas movies and whatever else is on TV as we fall in and out of sleep. It’s a tradition everyone should try once or twice a year.
  • Kid’s plays. Watching them that is. I’m not sure my patience would work well directing one, so I’m thankful for those who put in that effort. But watching little kids eat microphones, yell out “Happy Birthday Jesus!” and have a deer-in-the-headlights look when they see the Christmas crowd puts a smile on my face. Kids can make your day a little brighter just by being kids.
  • Giving. Yes, it’s easy to focus on what we want and to become envious of all those things in the commercials that we can’t afford. However, the best way to deal with envy and selfishness is to be generous. Maybe you don’t have much, but you have something you can give away. Maybe it’s buying someone a coffee at McDonalds, baking a cake or cleaning their house (any volunteers for that one? Guess not).

Giving is also a reminder of what God did for us. He gave. He gave up the glories of heaven to come to earth. Philippians 2:7 says that "He made Himself nothing by taking on the very nature of a servant …" Christ also came "… to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) And He did this as a gift providing a pathway back to our Creator God. (John 14:6, Romans 6:23)

Once we accept this gift, we are part of the family of God and we can look to Christ as an example to follow. (1 Peter 2:20-21) We are to do good and to serve just like Christ served; whether that means being kind to your Uncle Ned, spending quality time on the couch with your family, encouraging the kids in church or giving to the neighbor you barely know. Are you following Christ’s example?

This is a good time to begin giving. May this Christmas be one of giving and may it be the start of a tradition you and I make a part of our lives all year long. “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)