LOVE ALL (Terry Kreutzkamp)
For most of our family’s Christmas journey, a central focus of our celebrations has been finding ways to give gifts to Jesus. While we give presents to family members on their birthdays it made sense (and got the focus off of ourselves) to give specific gifts to Jesus, not each other, when it was His birthday. Based on Matthew 25 we know that giving to Christ involves reaching out to the disadvantaged in tangible ways like feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, or visiting the imprisoned and sick.
As a result, we’ve often made a practice of finding a family in need to bless with an anonymous gift during the Advent season. A good friend who used to be a courier dresses up in his old uniform to hand-deliver the gift certificates from local stores. We never know the exact way this blesses these people (ie. Jesus) but we trust that it brings some unexpected joy to the family. The simple message included in the card is able to explain the heart with which the gift is given.
Another tradition, which we began when our children were little (over 21 years ago now!) was singing carols at the hospital on Christmas morning. Since Beth works at the hospital and I play guitar, it seemed like a logical and good thing to try. Many of the patients on Beth’s floor aren’t able to go home for the holidays so these visits are a way of bringing a bit of Christmas to them. These have become a very special times of sharing songs, smiles, and sometimes even tears. The appreciative responses from both patients and staff, as well as the deep sense that we are doing something very appropriate, convinces us that this is definitely something we want to continue to make a part of every Christmas.
Challenge (by Devon Wagler)
Shepherds were uneducated, disrespected, untouchable members of society when Jesus was born. Jewish leaders liked the allegorical idea of a shepherd, but thought that the reality of the shepherd was atrocious. Who would listen to a shepherd?
Have you ever had the chance to really explain to people what you believe Christmas is all about? Try to think about how you would explain to someone the idea of God becoming man. How would you do it?
“Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it white .” (Bing Crosby)