“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” [Titus 3:4-7]
Dr. James Howell (Myers Park UMC) sends out a daily spiritual text message to those who sign up to be nudged spiritually. I enjoy his insight and the way he makes me stop and think about God and me and others during the day.
Today was no different. However today, he made me think about Christmas. First he asked, “do you remember Christmas 1998 or 2004. What did you get? What did you serve for lunch? Bet you can’t recall.”
His question made me think about the statement many of the newscasters use for those really horrific tragic days. Where were you and what were you doing when JFK was killed? What were you doing when the planes flew into the towers on 9/11/2001? What where you doing when the children and teachers were killed at Newtown? Most of us can remember those days because of how terrible they were. Its awfulness put a bookmark in our hearts and minds so that we would remember the significance of those days.
I can’t remember all that much about what we ate (although it most likely was our usual stuff) or what we received at Christmas 1998 or 2004. But I do remember that I gave Shirley her engagement ring during Christmas 1964.
Then James asked the real question: “Whom did you love at Christmas 1998 or 2004?” That is very easy unless you were going through some great breakup either of these years. My wife and son, family and friends made the time we spent together at Christmas very special. And I believe that had we not been together there would have been something missing… the expression of someone’s love given and received.
Now that I am older Christmas, birthday or anniversary gifts don’t really mean anything near what they use to. What makes all the difference is can we be with family on or near those special days. The love that is expressed and represented in each person’s life and the thanks we express to one another brings the warm glow of Christ’s Spirit into our celebrations.
Perhaps this Christmas should be one where we celebrate each other’s love. Take the time to talk about the good things each brings to the family, contributes to the advancement of the community and uplifts those who are in need all around us. As we share those times we are re-telling the story of our family at Christmas so that our children may learn who they are, what real character is about, and how the love of Christ is lived out in the community through us. Don’t miss Christmas by just giving material gifts. Make sure you give the gift of yourself to those around you, especially family and those in need.
Dear Lord, I know that I don’t remember what I ate or what I received as a gift for most Christmases. However, I do remember whom I loved and who loved me… and that the gift of this season is the gift of Jesus – God with us. Amen.
P.S. Don’t forget my new book is being published as an iBook on iTunes. It is entitled “Daily Moments with Pastor Steve.” You will be able to purchase this book simply by go to iBooks.com, typing in Stephen Martin in the search query for books, hit enter, and chose the book as it appears in the thumbnails of books being offered for sale. It will (should) look like the picture on the left. Thank you for purchasing this book, participating in the devotional times, and for sharing it with your friends. I pray that it will help us all.