Hear the snow crunch
See the kids bunch
This is Santa’s big scene
And above all this bustle
Silver bells, silver bells
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them sing
Soon it will be Christmas Day
Songwriters: Jay Livingston & Ray Evans
The beginning of December can certainly feel like “Santa’s big scene,” can it not? Especially as the real meaning of Christmas continues to be watered down like a fast-melting icicle.
When I focus on the hustle and bustle, the holiday concerts and the parties, the “what gift should I get for whom?” and so forth, I am quickly put into a “ho ho hum” state of mind. It can easily become the season of “how can I get through this?” instead of the season of “Emmanuel, God with us!”
But when I draw closer to Christ, then the meaning of Christmas become like an oasis of calm to me even though the snow may crunch or the kids may bunch. As the saying goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” And whether that sounds tired or gimmicky to you or not, I fully embrace it. Because it’s true!
The verse 1 John 4:19 so aptly reminds us that “we love because he first loved us.” And that’s it in a nutshell when it comes to Christmas, isn’t it? It’s a season about God’s love for his people. The incarnation of his son, Jesus Christ. When Light came to the world and gave us a way out of darkness.
Recently a wonderful reminder of what Christmas is all about came to me in the form of a gift catalog from Samaritan’s Purse. When I opened up my mail box and saw it, I wondered what types of gifts this international Christian relief and evangelism organization would be promoting to me. I had participated in their Operation Christmas Child shoe-box program before at my church, but had never seen a gift catalog. Perhaps there would be some really cool bracelets made by ladies in an African village or some woven ponchos from somewhere in South America. I was excited to flip through and see what I wanted to get.
But what I quickly learned was that the gift catalog was not for me. Not really. It was for others. As in, here were gifts that I could purchase to help other people all over the world at Christmastime and beyond.
For example, a gift of $45 will help save the lives of mothers and babies by training Christian birth attendants and providing them with equipment and medicine to provide crucial prenatal care. I flipped through some more pages and saw that $20 will give Gospel booklets to 40 children in their own languages with colorful pictures and a clear presentation of the story of our Savior. Near the middle of the catalog I found out that $150 will help build a church for suffering believers. The church pictured was one that had been built in Sudan to replace those destroyed during the civil war. And then I also discovered that for those who travel to preach the Gospel in the remotest of areas, a gift of $35 will provide audio/visual equipment, a month of Bible instruction or other resources to help reach people for Christ.
Well after taking in all of the many gifts that were available to be given, I set down the catalog. My heart was moved. And I couldn’t help but cry a little. This is what the season is all about.
And I tell you about this catalog today not because I’m being paid, nor did anyone from this organization ask me to do so. This is just an experience that helped to remind me that Christmas is not “Santa’s big scene.” And giving a gift through an organization like Samaritan’s Purse is just one way of giving to others because of a Savior who was given to us.
I pray that we will all be inspired, in whatever way God leads, to share the real meaning of Christmas today and in the days of Advent that are still ahead.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
If you’re feeling “ho ho hum” today, why not take some of the funds you’ve earmarked for Christmas presents and give a gift to help others in honor of your friend or loved one? Imagine their faces when they see that a gift has been given to someone else in need in their honor!
“Emmanuel God with Us”
Songwriters: Amy Grant, Chris Eaton and Robert Hall