Christmas is a time for the giving of gifts and that’s as it should be since it began with the giving of a gift, a gift that none of us will ever truly be worthy of, but that all of us should give thanks for.
The first six letters of Christmas is an eternal reminder of that first Christmas gift, a reminder too many of us are quick to forget as we go chasing about in the mad rush that has become the defining feature of the season. The mad rush is usually about gifts, and while there is nothing wrong with buying and giving gifts to those we love, we should not forget that first gift and what it has meant to the world over the past 2,000 years.
Our world is a better place because of that first gift and to forget that is to forget the true meaning of Christmas. The day is not merely a holiday, but the celebration of a birth, the birth of Jesus Christ whose life and message and triumph over death itself changed, continues to change, and will continue to change this world one life, one soul at a time. The first Christmas was the beginning of a great transformation that continues to transform lives and the world around those lives each and every day of the year.
If the mad rush for the perfect gift is a defining feature of Christmas today, there is also another better and more spiritually uplifting aspect of the season. Christmas is the time of year when people can be — and many times are — kinder, more generous and more charitable, not only to those they know and love, but to complete strangers, many of whom they will never meet but whose lives will be touched and made better by their kindness. The impulse toward this generosity has its origin in that first Christmas gift, given out of love to those who knew the giver not but were loved by Him just the same. He loved them so much that He gave up everything He knew to enter a world that would reject, curse, abuse and even kill Him, yet so great was His love that He triumphed over all this to continue giving of Himself to this day and beyond.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the life that has changed this world as no king or emperor, president or potentate, philosopher or inventor ever could. The world remains a cold, difficult and often dangerous place, especially for those who have given their lives to the one whose birth will be celebrated this Sunday. Nevertheless, they continue to love Him and serve Him, following the example He set during His short life here on Earth, a life that continues to change — for the better — the world and the lives of those who live in it in ways no other figure from history has ever been able to do.
It is fitting that Christmas this year falls on a Sunday because it is in church that we learn of the (earthly) life that began that first Christmas Day so long ago. While we are all eager to unwrap the gifts under the tree, we should take this opportunity to make church a part of our Christmas morning and remind ourselves once again of that first, most precious and enduring gift that is the reason for this season. By doing so, we will deepen our appreciation and understanding of the true meaning of Christmas and the impact it has had on the world and in our lives.
Without Christ there is no Christmas. This is the great truth we should remember, not only at Christmas but throughout the year. Not only should we remember this great truth, but also allow it to shape our lives in such a way that we show, in word and deed, that we appreciate and accept the precious gift that each and everyone of us was given so long ago.