A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com
Bible Reading Plan - <a href="http://www.bible-reading.com">www.Bible-Reading.com</a>
We are taking a short break from The Story for Advent and Christmas season. We’ll be back into The Story next week. We’re taking this one more week from the consecutive schedule so that our readings at Easter coincide with the events as recorded in The Story. This is our third and last week away from that study, but rest assured we will go back to it next week and then finish our journey exploring God’s plan to bring us back into a face to face relationship with Him.
You may or may not be listening to this podcast as it is being released, but it was released at 5:00 am Christmas morning. Growing up, that was the about as late as my mom could stand it. She would wake all of us up (if we weren’t already awake). We’d rush down the hall to the living room and get stopped in the hallway until dad could set up the camera. Then we would rush into the living room to see what Santa left under the tree. The next ten or thirty minutes were spent oohing and aahing over that magical thing that appeared under the tree from the night before.
Next, we would open all the other presents under the tree that belonged to our family. As the family grew, with five kids, it took a little while for all of them to get opened, chaos to subside and all the wrappings to be gathered and trashed. Once the unwrapping was done we got to pick one thing to take with us to granny’s house where all who could came for breakfast. Granny’s husband died when my father was only five and remained a widow the rest of her life, so most of her kids came home every Christmas to join her for breakfast. Many of the grandkids also stopped by, so it wasn’t unusual to have forty or fifty people trying to run shifts at the table or sofa or just find some standing room in her tiny two bedroom house.
But one thing that always happened at Granny’s house was that someone read the Christmas story from Luke Chapter 2 after breakfast. Then we would shower her with gifts. She never wanted anything and after she moved into an assisted living facility, they found many of those gifts unused in closets, under beds, stuffed away wherever she could find a spot because she just didn’t know how to receive gifts very well and didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by taking anything back or regifting as is common today.
Granny made sure everyone knew what Christmas was about. It wasn’t about presents and decorations and shopping and the hustle and bustle we seem to make it so many times today. Granny made sure we knew it was about Jesus’ birth. She even made Him a birthday cake that all us grandkids enjoyed every year on Christmas day for lunch. She always made Him the center of everything that day and made it clear to the family we were celebrating His coming.
Granny would tell me when I was growing up that her call in life was to raise a Christian family. Of the 96 family members at her funeral when she died, a fourth were in full-time Christian ministry. Many served as Sunday School teachers, sang in choirs, served on church boards and committees, and gave their time and energy in myriad ways to their local church. You could count on one hand the number that weren’t in church regularly. And by regularly, I mean every service. Then it meant Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. Granny raised a family committed to Christ.
We live in a highly mobile society and kids and grandkids no longer live close enough to do what Granny’s family did every Christmas. We were only an hour or so away the whole time I was growing up. When Carole and I had kids, we were half a world away from their grandparents. Unfortunately, that’s the way with a huge portion of the population now. We can’t spend time with family like we did in days gone by.
But we can still remember Jesus on Christmas. We can still embrace the importance of community and reach out to those around us. To build a family of friends, not to replace our flesh and blood kin, but to share the love of Christ and the importance of this special day. Does that mean we have to prepare big meals with ham and turkey and lots of side dishes and desserts and spend half the day in the kitchen for a 20 minute meal? No.
At Granny’s we had biscuits, eggs, bacon, sausage, and that’s about it. All of us pitched in to help cook so the meal was pretty simple, quick and easy and it wasn’t the food we went for anyway. We went for the fellowship. It can be the same with any gathering. We don’t need to impress anyone with preparations to enjoy their company. If you have to do that, then those are the wrong people to invite. Invite the ones that don’t care if pillows are out of place or dishes don’t match. The ones that will get their own beverages after you show them where they are the first time.
Spend Christmas in community with people you love. Just sharing Jesus’ love with those around you will make a big difference in your life and theirs. Remember those two commands Jesus gave us that wraps all the others together? Love God and love people. When we do that, something incredible happens. We share the grace and mercy we’ve been given to others in the same way God has give His grace and mercy to us. We learn to give cheerfully from a heart full of love. Those around us see Jesus in our actions when we truly love with His love.
I don’t know what kind of traditions you have in your family. Ours have changed through the years because of experiences we had through our military travels that took us far from family and even sometimes separated us. We made accommodations to what use to be long held traditions because of things that change around us with health and age and place and time. But through it all, there is still one constant.
Jesus is the center of our celebration. We recognize there would be no Christmas without Christ. He is the reason we have the holiday. He is the reason we gather together. He is why we laugh and cry and live and breathe. Jesus is why.
If we lose the real reason for Christmas we lose it all. Whatever you do this day or this season, don’t forget why we celebrate in the first place. Don’t lose the centerpiece of all that happens in this season named for the one to whom it truly belongs. Keep Christ, not just at Christmas, but all year long.
Next week we will return to our study of The Story, God’s plan to restore a face to face relationship with us. We finished chapter 14 before our short break. Next week we will begin reading chapter 15.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.