Christmas is approaching. Presents are being bought. Cards are being addressed and mailed. There is excitement in the air as the calendar makes its way to December 25.
Receiving presents brings joy and happiness. I remember as a child the joy I experienced when my brothers, sisters and I went to the docks to retrieve the small box of presents sent from my Dad, a merchant seaman who was somewhere else in the world working to provide for his family. No matter where he was, my dad always sent gifts for Christmas.
As Christmas approached in those days, we would walk the beaches of Colon, Panama looking for driftwood to use as our Christmas tree. We would find a suitable piece of balsa wood, clean it up, take it home and decorate it with ornaments. In the softness of the evening lights we would celebrate the season of Christmas.
Today, as I ponder the beauty of the season, my heart overflows because of the wonderful family - wife, children and grandchildren - He has provided for me. But my heart is most thrilled because of the expressed love of God for me through His Son, Jesus.
The greatest gift of Christmas is the birth of our Savior. The words of the angel, as he spoke to Joseph, continue to ring true in our lives: "Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:20-21).
Let us always remember that He came to provide forgiveness and eternal life.
Every time I think of gifts - whether a present to someone for a birthday, anniversary or Christmas or in relation to those qualities God bestows on us - I remember II Corinthians. The passage is one of my favorites by the Apostle Paul who is writing about giving and generosity. He ends the chapter with verse 15:
"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift."
What a gift it is! The season demonstrates God's love and faithfulness. As Christ's followers, we celebrate the birth of our Savior. But in the midst of this time of celebration, I am reminded of the untold number of people who have no idea what this season really is about.
We are God's agents to tell the story - whether in the city or state in which we live, the nation we call home, or a distant land. God has called each of us to proclaim His birth. But the story doesn't end there. We also must proclaim His death, burial and resurrection.
Those are the reasons I celebrate Christmas. I pray they are the reasons you celebrate too!