Think about Christmas. When all was said and done were there a few gifts under your tree? We always had some gifts that had to be delivered another day. It was impossible to get to everyone before Christmas Day.
The wrapping paper is cleaned up and gifts have been worn but there is much more to Christmas than that. Christmas is about the ultimate gift. When God sent his son as a baby, it was so much more. Unless you know of Jesus, the grownup, you miss the reason for his coming to earth in the first place.
I remember arguing with a youth pastor once about the importance of Christmas. He maintained that Easter was more important than Christmas. I argued that without Christmas there would be no Jesus and therefore no savior to die for our sins.
I guess maybe we were both right in a sense. It takes both Christmas and Easter to complete God's plan for saving grace.
God sent his son in human flesh so that all might know him. Just imagine how Mary felt when the angel told her she was about to become the mother of the son of God. Then, there was Joseph her betrothed. What a scary time that must have been for the young couple.
Isaiah 9 prophesied the birth of a child who was to be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace." Jesus came to fulfill that Old Testament promise. Although his life on earth was short, he fulfilled his mission. He came as a helpless infant yet went to the cross to die when he was slightly more than thirty years old to save us from our sins. Yes, he came for all of us because all fall short in the eyes of the Lord.
Can you believe that God loved us that much? The gift of Christmas is the saving grace given by the Lord through the death of his son. All we need to do is ask Jesus to enter our hearts and be our savior. Many of us are too busy to do that. We put it off hoping to do it at a later date. We leave the gift that God gave unopened.
A newly married couple at our church spoke about melding their Christmas customs. They found room for all of their ornaments and time to attend all of the family functions. They allowed time for the Christmas service as well. You do have to set your priorities.
I remember those days. My family lived about 50 miles away from the farm. The first few years we attempted to get home to my family, too. That ended one year when we were nearly wiped out during a snowy trip on the road. It was too dangerous to make that trip with two young children, so my family had to come to us either before Christmas or after.
The Bible says we know not the day or the hour when Christ will return. Could it be soon? Could we get sick or be in a life-threatening accident that could take our life - even at a young age? We never know. That is why the idea of accepting the gift of Christmas and opening it is so important.
Have you opened the gift that God gave? Do not leave the most important gift of all unopened beneath your tree.
May the Lord be with you throughout the holiday season. Stand tall in your faith extending the blessings of Christmas to all you meet.
Do not forget that New Year. Take a survey of 2010. Accept your blessings and your trials. Look with certainty at a new year. If you do not like how things went, vow to do better. If you are content, thank the Lord for your blessings.
A new year is a new beginning. Accept the things you cannot change and work to change the things that you can change. Bad things happen to good people. That is this process that we call life.
May you and yours have a happy and prosperous new year.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.