12/24/2006

Christmas Past

I am grateful for family traditions, especially at Christmas. Every year when I was growing up, we opened our presents Christmas morning. But first we would eat breakfast. Then we all would quote the Christmas story from Luke 2 from memory. Now when you're nine and the only thing standing between you and your presents is twenty verses from the Gospel of Luke, you can talk pretty fast. Mom kept an open Bible handy in case we got stuck, which for me was the part right around the end of the angels and the shepherds.

It was a way for us to establish priorities at a time of year when far too many people lose sight of what matters. The commercialization of Christmas almost makes me wish for the Puritan days when anyone celebrating the holiday was fined five shillings. Almost...but not quite. Because it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

I'm going to enjoy opening the packages I've been shaking. I'll enjoy even more watching Brenda and the kids open theirs. But that's not Christmas. Christmas is the birth of a baby who, though human, was also God made flesh to die for the sins of the world. I'm thankful for a family that taught me that lesson early. And I'm grateful that we've shared that faith with our children. And tomorrow, we'll be quoting Luke 2 before we open our presents. My wife will have a Bible handy, because I still tend to get stuck around verse 17. And we will celebrate, not primarily a season of giving, peace, or joy, but of God's salvation.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:20&21

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