With the importance of the moment smiling through his bushy red moustache, Grandpa eased into his chair at one end of the long, full table where the jars of red cranberry sauce nestled in poinsettia skirts — the final touch of Grandma's work before she sat down at her end of the table.
In front of Grandpa was that great, glowing, tan turkey, whole. And Grandpa sat there, asking each of us in turn what piece we wanted, carving it off for us. On this the first Christmas of my memory, I was seated two or three persons up the table from Grandpa's left, a little girl of about three, and it was my turn to say what I wanted. I hesitated, for I hadn't known such a choice could be mine. I suppose that at home I had received in my bowl what my parents considered suitable. So, I was helped in my decision by my mother from across the table, and by several aunts, uncles, and cousins all talking at once until some meat was placed upon my big plate.
Today, I'm glad that among all the Christmases, that first one for me was a time when I was given a choice. No doubt, the very gift of choice gave me the consciousness necessary to remember the moment.
Likewise, God, by giving us human beings personal and ultimate choices, both creates and affirms our personhood.
Through the ages, leaders with divine mandates have been aware that persons have the power to make great choices. Joshua, of Old Testament times, offered the Israelites a choice: "Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15 ESV)
Still today, many people don't know that they can make ultimate choices such as whether or not to serve God. Some fear an ominous and fixed fate that they imagine binds them forever into being acted upon (especially in relationship with God), and never having power to decide.
Yet, we have the God-given right to choose to serve God because God has chosen us in the first place. The apostle Paul wrote, "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ" (Ephesians 1:4 NLT). We can make the choice to accept God's choosing of ourselves.
Christmas helps us to know that Jesus came to the world as Emmanuel, God with us, to embody and enlighten our choosing.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for choosing us and for giving us free will to choose You as our Saviour, redeemer, and guide. Enlighten all of our choices, for Your name's sake, and help us to influence for You all whom we encounter. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Once In Royal David's City" (Lyrics)