Growing up, every year on Christmas morning, when I was chomping at the bit to open my presents under the tree, my Dad would always make us first all gather around and he would read the Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20. As a kid it drove me crazy, but as I grew older I learned to appreciate the wisdom and love of my dad in helping us to focus in on Jesus and why we were celebrating and opening presents.
So when Sharon and I had our own children, guess what? I too subjected our girls to the same Christmas morning, painful pause before presents were opened, reminding us of the greatest present of all, the greatest gift ever given to the cosmos and mankind, Jesus the Prince of Peace, the one and only Savior of the World. In fact, though now our daughters are grown women, we still pause and read about Jesus every Christmas morning.
Another tradition at our home during the Christmas season, which came to be by way of a children’s video which Sharon introduced when our girls were little, is also from Luke 2. Every time we hear this story, when verse 9 is read, “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” Every time, at the ending of this verse, we all let out a frightened sound of the shepherds being terrified, “Ahhhhhhhhh!” (You should try it sometime. You will get interesting reactions from those sitting around you in worship.)
A prayer I have this time of year is that I never lose the wonder, beauty, and love which is on full display in this narrative about the birth of Jesus. In fact, it is my hope, as I grow older, instead of it becoming old news and I become jaded to this truth, my wonder will increase as I become more and more aware of God’s grace and love and how desperately the world needs to hear this story and come to know Jesus.
Several years ago as I was sharing the Good News of Jesus with a young man who had grown up in Kansas, I noticed along the way that the things I was saying did not seem to be clearly registering. So I had to stop making assumptions, back up, and enquire more into his understanding and knowledge of the Christian faith. In doing so I found out he had grown up in a home where these things were not believed or taught. In fact, he had never heard the story of Jesus’ birth! This greatly surprised me and caused me to ponder.
In our present time and culture, please do not be guilty of making the same assumption that all of those around you know the basics of the Christian faith. The fact of the matter is that more and more do not! They do not know the stories we teach our children in Sunday School and they have not sung the songs many of us did as children. Many really do not understand who Jesus is, what he has done, and of our Father’s love. These things are no longer a given.
It’s true, the greatest gift we can ever give to anyone at any time of the year, is the gift of the only Savior of the World, God in the Flesh, Jesus! Many, even some close to you, may not know Him!