The unchanging message of Christmas

Published 7:02 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I had the joy the other day of participating in a Christmas party at one of the local day care centers.

I went in unusual form—dressed as a certain jolly old man associated with the Christmas season.

It was loads of fun passing out gifts, entertaining the children, having pictures taken with them and seeing the smiles on their innocent little faces.

But not all faces were smiling; I have never had so many children afraid of me as I did on that occasion.

It seems like such a short time ago that our two children were just like those at day care—waiting for the opportunity to go see Santa Claus when he came to town and then when he did, keeping a cautious distance from him.

Now our girls are grown up and have children of their own; they have reached that place in life when I would be wise not to say how old they are! But that is all right since Gale and I now get to enjoy the good things of Christmas with their little girls, Mallory and Jaleah.

As I pause and think about it for a moment, a lot has changed in our family Christmas celebrations. As we shopped for gifts for the grandchildren recently, Gale and I realized that even the toy selection is quite different than it was when our children were small.

Years ago, our entire family would gather at my grandparents’ home for a huge Christmas meal and the sharing of gifts. As time went on, the family got too big and our grandparents’ health became too bad for that tradition to continue. As we all married and left home, the big Christmas celebration took place at my parents’ home, but now it has become nearly impossible for us all to be there at one time.

I am filled with pride when my little family gathers in our home for our Christmas celebration. We build new memories every year as we gather to devour Nana’s pecan pie and Papa’s peanut brittle, and then quickly transform that big pile of gifts under the tree into a huge load of fun. But that also has to be adjusted to accommodate changes in the family.

The one thing that has not changed in our Christmas observance is the reason we celebrate.

Even though toys change, as do the times and places where we gather to celebrate Christmas, the eternal truth remains solid: Christmas is about Christ. What a glorious event His birth was as the angel of the Lord proclaimed to the shepherds, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, NIV).

Yet when we stop and think about what He came to do, we cannot deny that Christ came to bring change. The prophet Isaiah penned these words about Christ centuries before His birth in Bethlehem: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). These words appear again in Mathew 4:16 to signify that Jesus Christ fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet.

The unchanging message of Christmas is that Christ was born to make the only way for our lives to be eternally changed. He was born to die for our sins and rise to life again so those who believe and follow Him can be taken from the deadness and darkness of sin to the light and life of His forgiveness. May we all by faith receive that great gift that Christ provided for each of us.