Jesus, The Gift of Heaven
Pastor Loren L. Fenton, D.Min.
Memories of Christmas Past
In my childhood Christmas Eve was without doubt the most exciting moment of each year. Early in December the countdown started, published every day in the local newspaper: “15 . . . 10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . . more shopping days ‘til Christmas.” My excitement grew with every passing day. Some years the stack of presents under the tree in the living room grew large and colorful with brightly wrapped packages. Other years the realities of dirt farming kept the tree and number of gifts more modest. There were actually a few years when no tree appeared at all until the very last. But always, without fail, after supper on Christmas Eve our family gathered around the tree to give and receive the hidden treasures.
The Rules of the Christmas Tree
There were rules, though. The routine was always the same. I guess it must have been written somewhere in stone, but being the youngest of four children I didn’t ask questions.
- First, the outdoor chores had to be done. The animals were always cared for before we washed up for our own supper.
- When the meal was finished the table was cleared, dishes were washed, dried, and put away.
- The floor was swept and everything had to be in order.
- Then we changed into our nice clothes before gathering around the tree. This was an important ceremony!
The gifts were usually of a practical nature. A new shirt, warm socks, that type of thing. I don’t really remember very many of the gifts themselves. The most important thing was being together – a family tradition that bonded us with love and loyalty.
The Greatest Gift of All
As the years have unfolded from those long-ago Christmas memories, I have come to realize with ever-growing conviction that the heart of God was revealed in His gift of Jesus to us. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6,7 NKJV). “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NLT).
The greatest story ever told is the story of Jesus coming to our world as a tiny, helpless baby born in a rough stable, cradled in a manger bed, and worshipped by shepherds and wise men. But it wasn’t just about the Baby Jesus, or Mary, or Joseph. The heart of God longed for connection with the people He loved. Jesus was the way. Sin and rebellion caused a great gulf separating man from God. Jesus was given to all humanity so that through Him we might once again be united with the Father. The Word of God became Immanuel, “God with us,” for all time and eternity, reuniting the family of Earth with the family of heaven. What an unspeakable gift! What indescribable love!
Thank You, Father, for Jesus
It is only a few more days ‘til Christmas. When you give and receive your gifts this year, don’t forget to give thanks to our Father in heaven for Jesus, the greatest gift of all!