Presents? Presence!

Years ago, one of my husbands employees was visiting our home over the Christmas holiday.  She oohed and ahhhed over the tree and seven stockings hung over the fireplace.

“My mom just throws a Walmart bag at us on Christmas day and says “here’s your stuff”,” then she cried over holidays never celebrated, sweet memories never made.

For me Christmas isn’t about the presents, it’s about the presence.  We celebrate Christ’s birth because he chose to humble himself and come as an infant, a helpless babe, to feel the chill of a frosty night, hear the bleating of sheep, smell the dung of the donkey, feel himself wrapped in humanity.   Shepherds, the outcast wanderers, came to celebrate his birth.For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!- Luke 3:11  Angels sang. Glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased [men of goodwill, of His favor].-Luke 3:14  A celebration.

Christmas should be celebrated!  I am not going to delve into the historic incorrectness of the holiday.  Children don’t understand that, they only understand what they learn from us.  Legalistic, historically- correct parents can take the joy out of any holiday.

My family has many Christmas traditions.  Advent.  Candles.  Reading of the Scriptures.  Reading the historical account in Luke on Christmas morn of the birth of Jesus.  We discuss the political climate of times, Roman rule, the need for a savior, the misunderstandings, we settle down and marinate in the season.

There are cookie baking days, present wrapping, board game playing, movies, coffee (eggnog latte please, Uncle Robert!), lengthy discussions about politics and words in speed scrabble.   It’s not about the presents, it’s about the presence.  Jesus came to earth, not to banish the Roman oppression (that would come later) and overthrow the government.  Instead, he came to fulfill the requirement of a sacrifice for sin and to restore a family, a covenant.  We now have access to our Father in heaven who we CAN run to with open arms and cry, “ABBA, Father!”  God, the Father celebrates us,  He could not wait to send us the gift of His SON, wrapped in swaddling clothes (Luke 3:12)!   Jesus came to restore us to a right relationship with the heavenly Father, to offer us the gift of eternal salvation, but He doesn’t stop there!  The final Word of the Old Testament before four hundred years of prophetic silence?

And he shall turn and reconcile the hearts of the [estranged] fathers to the [ungodly] children and the hearts of the [rebellious] children to [the piety of] their fathers…. Malachi 3: 6

Oh happy day!  Family. Presence.  Celebrate your family!  Celebrate with your children, aunts, uncles, kits, cats, sacks and wives!  WE have a family because of  Christ’s birth!

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