Remember the excitement, the anticipation, the sleeplessness? Remember Christmas being the moment of high excitement. You went to bed with a tree in the living room lit up with colorful lights, tinsel, and ornaments. That alone was beautiful, but what happened in the morning was spectacular. As you came into the room, the lights were still lit on the tree, but under the tree were numerous wrapped gifts in reds, greens, silver, gold and ribbons tightly embracing the contents. We knew better than to touch anything before the parents were up. So, we would knock on the door, make loud noises to arouse them. Once they came to the living room, the orderly distribution of gifts began. Each of us was excited for the others to see what they got. Especially important was to see if you received what you had been hoping for. As a child, Christmas seemed like it would never get here. As an adult, it comes and goes so fast that you struggle to grab the wonder.

Now, my favorite thing has become watching the faces of the little ones as they open something they had wished for. Their parents love to see clothes for the kids, but the kids pass over those quickly for the more exciting toys. All that preparation, buying, wrapping, anticipating, cooking, and the event is over in moments. Yet, during that short event, there are memories made. Things are remembered and simple gifts can become treasures that remain a lifetime. Looking back years later, you begin to realize the sacrifice of parents and loved ones to make Christmas special.

Yes, sacrifice. As a kid you do not realize that it may take a couple of months to pay for the gifts you received. Parents do that. Or maybe someone was working two jobs or working a lot of overtime to make Christmas special. The wonder of Christmas is in the willingness to sacrifice to make the moment wonderful for someone else. 

Some of the toys were played with for awhile and then they faded. Clothing fit and was worn, but in the years of growing a few months made them too small. Yet, the sacrifice was made willingly and for that fleeting moment the reward was seen in the face of joy.

Gratitude should be present, but often is not. Sometimes it takes years to feel the gratitude for what was done. As a child, you do not know. You probably should not. Some have said that they did not know they were poor till they got older into adulthood. The sacrifices and love covered the reality so there would be joy. Then as adulthood awakens the reality of the past, you are awed by what was done for you.

I guess I do not want to lose the wonder of Christmas. The number of gifts do not matter to me, in fact, the fewer the better. You remember better with fewer. What is really important is having family together. The banter, the laughter, the stories, the little ones are the best gifts of the day.

Likewise, the wonder of the sacrifice that God made for us to have joy, fulfillment, and peace is paramount to our celebration. The birth is a wonder of God’s planning and grace, but without the cross it would have been a kid born to a Jewish carpenter and his young wife. The progress of the gift from birth to resurrection makes the wonderment beyond full comprehension. Jesus is a gift that keeps on giving to us daily. The opening of another revelation, another understanding, another prophetic fulfillment causes us to live in wonder. It is Christmas every time we see another facet of the plan and the eternal gift.

I am eternally grateful to Jesus!

– Pastor Bill

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