Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen"1 (Lyrics)
Isaiah 29:13a – The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." (NIV)
They stream out of the store, carts crammed with piles of groceries, assorted Christmas items, wreaths, toys, candy canes, chocolates, huge frozen turkeys, and the occasional clinging child. A few people notice me standing beside the Salvation Army Christmas bubble. Some stop and dig into their pockets and purses, then, with a self-conscious smile, push a few coins or a crumpled bill into the bubble. Others send their children over. Some approach rambunctiously, others shyly. One little boy, before he decides to relinquish the coins he is clutching in his fist, asks curiously, "What's this money for?" I explain that it is to help some families to have a nice Christmas.
Of course, parents want to be sure that their children have a happy Christmas, and for many, that equates to lots of food and presents. But what do the children know about the real meaning of the season?
My heart goes out to the children who have missed the experience of singing "Happy birthday, dear Jesus" and listening to their fathers read the Christmas story. My heart goes out to the parents who have no understanding of the real meaning of Christmas, and are rushing about madly under the pressure of what Christmas has become for so many: spending money on expensive gifts — many of which will soon be forgotten as they toss one aside and reach for the next one — and buying excessive amounts of food — much of which will go to waste after their large Christmas dinner.
In my mind, I see a large jigsaw puzzle entitled "Christmas 2016". There is all manner of beautiful shining ornaments, tall, decorated evergreen trees with mounds of gifts piled underneath, and heavily laden tables of food. But I ask myself, "Where is Jesus?"
And then I notice that the puzzle is flawed because down in one corner, a small piece of the puzzle is missing. There is no nativity scene. I feel a tear slide down my cheek as my heart goes out to Jesus, Who gave His life for the world that all humanity might know Him.
This Christmas, many will be missing the real meaning of Christmas, but Immanuel is not missing. His Spirit is still present in our world, working within all those who love Him, for, as Jesus told His disciples so long ago:
John 16:7-8 – But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. (NIV)
God is still at work in our world revealing His Son and the true meaning of Christmas, through the power of His Holy Spirit. Therefore, let us remember to pray for open hearts, ears, and minds for those to whom our hearts go out: those who have not yet heard or come to accept the greatest Christmas gift of all — Jesus!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as the season of celebrating Your birthday approaches, open unexpected opportunities for us to share with others that all this activity is really all about You. Amen.
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Amen to that.
A touching challenge Sharon. Have a Christ-filled Christmas.
Amen, Sharon, may we always remember the real reason for this Season, Jesus. Blessings to you and your loved ones this Christmas and always.
Love the message I will ask our Pastor if I could lead the congregation into singing Happy Birthday Dear Jesus on Christmas Eve and Day.
Beautiful message Sharon. It is sad that many folk refuse to listen, or are willing to know about Jesus, the true meaning of Christmas. There is no real reason for all the busyness if you block Him out.
Hi Sharon, so good to read your offering on today’s PCC devotional “The Missing Piece”… well written and so very true. Missed mention of Sparky. Is he still bringing you 24/7 joy? Hope you are well and continuing to be busy and sharing Jesus daily with friends and family.
Wishing you a merry and blessed Christmas and a happy, healthy 2017.
Good Morning, Sharon,
Thank you for this morning’s devotional. It reminded me of the live nativity we did when our grandchildren were little. My special memory is of one crawling to the manger in her angel costume. All the grandchildren are older and we have abandon that tradition but I hope the grandchildren will remember. Your words are very poignant and meaningful.
Blessings to you this Christmas.
There have been several devotionals about the fact that Christ has been, and is being, removed from Christmas and it bothers me no end. It is one of my pet peeves, and it is my hope and prayer that things will change, the pressure of people wanting, no needing to buy something for somebody is overwhelming, and at times I really worry.
Thank you for writing.
A Blessed Christmas and a happy New Year to you and yours.
After reading your devotional today I had to think about what you had said. I felt conflicted all day. In the afternoon I attend a knitting group at our church and I showed the devotional on my IPad. Our family has drastically cut down on all the Christmas trimmings and maybe that is part of what you were suggesting. Unfortunately the devotional came across as judgemental to me. It left me hoping I do not come across that way when I make suggestions especially to my grown children. I will keep you in my prayers as the days pass on the way to the big day, our Lord’s birthday.
Thank you Sharon for your challenging devotional.
Well done. May this Christmas bring the ones who need Jesus in there
So true Sharon and nicely said. Hope your Christmas is blessed spent with family and friends perhaps?
It is sad to know that so many children have never been to Sunday School and don’t know Jesus. I wonder as so many grow up and become adults what this world will be like. I pray for a revival in this next generation.
It was also very interesting how you described people approaching the Salvation Army ball. I saw once a person put in a few coins and then walk to a lottery booth and buy twenty dollars of tickets.
Great devotional Sharon. I identify with your comments on the real meaning of Christmas.
I’ve attached a song that we recorded about this subject.