Giving gifts as a child brought me joy. I took special care to select the perfect present. I hoped my family would treasure the trinkets, because of the love I poured into the purchase and presentation. As a little girl, I anticipated the day I could give away the presents.
Growing up, there was never a shortage of gifts under the tree. As I grew older and encountered others’ Christmases, I realized how much we gorged ourselves on gifts. Somehow, the simple beauty of wrapping up love and giving it away became a display of excess. Somewhere along the way we bought into commercialized Christmas.
Christ wasn’t part of my Christmas. I knew Santa. But I didn’t know our Savior.
I came to know Christ when I was in the middle years of life. My Savior had been at each of those Christmases past. I just hadn’t seen Him. He was watching. He was waiting for me. He knew one day I would be His.
Early on my journey with Jesus, He brought me into a spiritual family. God gave me spiritual sisters to celebrate life with – such a gift. At the time I didn’t feel worthy.
Several years ago, these sisters came together in celebration of Christ. That gathering created a precious, Christ-centered Christmas memory.
It was a cool Midwestern day in December. The brisk air took my breath away, or maybe that was anxiety I wouldn’t fit in.
I nervously knocked on the door of my now-friend, Catherine. She exudes warmth. I was immediately welcomed into her home with a hug. Festive decorations greeted guests as we crossed the thresh hold. Catherine and her daughter Kaitlyn seemingly decorated every inch of their home. The beauty made more special because mother and daughter had decked the halls together.
I was ushered into the kitchen which was bursting full of women. It was lovely to see the ladies laughing and sharing stories, all excited for the season we were about to embark upon.
The women came together in celebration and honor of Christ. These sisters are enthralled with our Savior. While not perfect, they have a passion for the One who is. Somehow, I found myself in their midst. I was accepted into the gathering of God’s grace-giving gals.
Coffee in hand, tea for a few, we milled about before we settled into the dining room to eat brunch. There was a smorgasbord of delicious dishes to delight our taste buds.
After dining together we migrated like geese to a warmer climate as we moved to the family room, closer to the crackling fire. It wasn’t one of those cavernous rooms you get lost in. It’s cozy. It was the perfect setting for women in pursuit of an intimate encounter with Christ.
We snuggled into our seats. I couldn’t help but smile as I saw Catherine’s sweet border collie curled up before the fire. Even the dog decorated for the season. Her black and white coat contrasted with the red satin ribbon tied in a large bow around her neck.
My friend Erin has a voice as enchanting as Snow White’s. She led us as we sang Christmas carols a cappella. God’s presence ushered deeper into the room. I don’t remember all the songs we sang, but I do remember singing Silent Night. God was beckoning me years before I knew Him through that song. Silent Night was my favorite Christmas carol long before I knew Christ. This year, the song had different significance. Tears streamed down my cheeks in the holy moment of worship.
The presence of God was palpable.
Our faces flushed from His presence warming our hearts. Erin read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2. Mary treasured up the birth of Jesus. Now we, His daughters, desired to treasure Him in our hearts as well. It was a sacred, holy moment. From Silent Night to Scripture, Christ showed Himself to those of us in that sanctified space.
I remember not wanting to disrupt the feeling. I was awe-struck. I had never celebrated Christ in Christmas like I did that day. It was beautiful. It was a blessing. It felt like God’s favor flooding over us.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14
As I drove away, I basked in the silence of my car. I wanted to extend the sacred moment for as long as possible. I remember thanking God profusely for giving me such a great gift that season, a true understanding of the meaning of Christmas.
I still give gifts to others, but I vow never to forget the significance of the Giver of the greatest gift of all. Time spent in His presence for all eternity.
Merry Christmas, my friends! May you know Jesus in your heart as your Lord and Savior for all of eternity!
If you do not know Jesus, know that He desires nothing more than to welcome you with open arms into His kingdom for all eternity. He invites you to accept Him as your Father, the Leader of your life, and Forgiver of your sin. Ask Jesus through this prayer to welcome you as a child of God, never alone, never forsaken, and always welcome.
Jesus, I submit to Your leadership in my life. Please lead and guide my steps on the path of righteousness. Please forgive me for all my sin and accept me into Your eternal kingdom as Your chosen child, a child of God. Thank you, Lord, that I will always have Your love and presence with me forever and ever. Thank You Jesus that You hold my hand and my heart gently. Please fill me up with Your love and healing, so that I may share Your love with others who need to know the precious free gift of salvation available through Your feely given grace. In Jesus’ name, amen.