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Christmas presents and christmas tree, close-up

I love Christmas. It is such a wonderful time of year. I wish the season would last all year instead of just between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

People seem to change during this short period of time each year. They seem happier and they become more friendly. They decorate their homes for the season and they even become more generous. Some who never give anything to anyone suddenly get an urge to give gifts. Moms and dads give to their children, families give to one another and friends exchange gifts across the country.

December office parties spring up everywhere and people even give gifts to those they hardly speak to all year long. It’s quite amazing how the Christmas season primes people all over the world to begin thinking about giving a gift, whether it be to a loved one or to a friend. What a wonderful season it is.

As I reflect on the spirit of giving, I also reflect on a very different aspect of giving. What if the people who received gifts refused their gift? What if a very special and costly gift were given to someone you loved, and they refused to even open the gift? What a heart-breaking experience Christmas would be if people all over the world purchased costly and wonderful gifts for their friends and loved ones and no one accepted the gifts. What a dark Christmas it would be.

Sometimes, I think that God must feel that way when we reject the wonderful and priceless gift that He gave to us so long ago.

When I ponder Christmas, I still experience and cherish the gift that was given by God over 2000 years ago in the small town of Bethlehem. The gift was Jesus, His only begotten son.

Yes, one starry special night in December He was born in a lowly stable next to the animals because there was no room that night anywhere in town where His mother could give birth to the child. He was born of the virgin Mary. He was and is the Son of God, Emanuel, which means “God with us.” He was the One whom God sent to the world to be the perfect gift. He was the “Word,” the “Son of God,” “He became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)

He was the one Messiah spoken of by God’s prophets 740 years earlier. Yes, Jesus, who after only 33 years of life on earth gave Himself, sinless, to a terrible wooden cross where He was scourged, beaten and crucified for the sins of the world. In His death He bled His precious perfect blood for every sin of man. In a tomb He was laid and on the third day He rose from the grave and conquered death for us all.

Yes, it is God who has given the most excellent Gift to us, His Son Jesus. He has given us the gift of life through forgiveness of our sins. When we realize there is absolutely no way that we, ourselves, can pay for our sin, we then realize the only way to eternal life is through Jesus the Messiah (Rom 6:23). It is He and He alone who can save us and give eternal life.

Christmas is receiving and celebrating the gift of life from God Himself. Won’t you receive God’s perfect gift this Christmas? His name is Jesus. He is the reason for this wonderful Christmas season. Receive God’s gift and pass it on to others.

May God bless you richly and often.

The Rev. Dalton Lilly is with Narrow Road Ministries in Chancellorsville.

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