As I think of Christmas, memories of childhood flood my mind. The anticipation of gifts, the wonder of the enormous Christmas display that my Daddy would build in our front yard, all come back. Daddy would build a large platform in front of half of our house. For easy assembly, he hinged the green painted wood and plywood together. Daddy never had a driver’s license, so he would have to find someone to take him to get straw and go to the country and get some moss for the grassy area.
This Bethlehem scene was complete with many large ceramic statues. There was a large hillside with sheep, dogs, camels, wise men and the manger. In the manger scene were Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus, a donkey and a cow. All placed with care to depict a most important Holy day. The whole diorama, with lights and beautiful Christmas music playing, set the mood for everyone to see a depiction of the first Christmas. In later years when my Daddy could no longer build the scene, my sister and I would take over and do it. I remember one year almost knocking myself out because I hit my head on the structure.
The inside of the house was my Mama’s to decorate. We would get a fresh tree each year and decorate it with ornaments that had been around forever. Then there was a little more modern town under the tree, and of course a manager scene. There were little dog, rabbit and pig families that got spread out in the grass. This was the focal point that covered most of the front wall of the living room.
My Mama would bake cookies each year. Not just a few, but very large tins full of dozens of cookies of each type. We had chocolate chip, chocolate crackles, pecan krispies, butterscotch, pineapple, lebkuchen, feffernuss, sugar, cinnamon stars, springlers. Then there was the candy: pralines, million dollar fudge, and divinity.
As a child Christmas was about decorating, cooking and getting presents. I saw the Christmas story through the decorations and the specials on TV. Back then showing a biblically based program on TV was normal.
As I have matured I realized that this life is about more than me. My focus has become one of giving what I can and helping others receive what they are offered. Jesus came into this world to offer forgiveness. That forgiveness gives us the gift of eternal life with God. Many people know about this forgiveness but have never opened up their heart to receive it.
Forgiveness of sins is a free gift from God when you open your heart to Him.
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (NIV)
Share God’s love with those around you this Christmas. I’ll be back with more next week.