Colossians 3:14 – And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (ESV)
The day after I graduated from high school in Nebraska, USA, my family returned "home" to Arkansas where Dad started a new business. While there were family members in Little Rock, there were none of my own friends, and not even any siblings, as I was an only child. So, leaving for university in Texas was exciting and long-awaited.
My first trip back home was at Christmas. When I walked in the front door of our home, there sat a Christmas tree with blue lights. I had always wanted blue lights, but my wonderful mother, a traditionalist, never wavered from her belief in using multi-coloured lights for the tree. The blue lights filled me with the warmth of being home and being loved, and signalled to me that this Christmas would be special. That Christmas was indeed special, but not in the way that I had anticipated.
It was "against the rules" to open presents before Christmas morning, so it was probably 10 a.m. or so when my parents and I gathered around the Christmas tree. I was shocked to see one present and only one. When I opened it, there was an orlon sweater, which, at the time, was nothing special. Although the sweater was trimmed with sequins, that didn't help much. I am sure that I tried to have a stiff upper lip, but this only child was not used to such a sparse Christmas. I soon found out that while I was having a wonderful semester away, both our home and Dad's business had been robbed, which meant little extra spending money. That afternoon, we gathered with aunts, uncles, and cousins for a joyous family Christmas, and some of the sting and disappointment began to dissipate.
Why is it that more than sixty years later, that "orlon Christmas" stands out among the tops so vividly in my memory? That time was the beginning of my realization about what really matters in life. In spite of adversity, my parents' faith in Jesus Christ never wavered. Never before had we been close enough to celebrate this special day with family, and on Christmas Eve, our whole family worshipped together at Westover Hills Presbyterian Church, our new church home. There, we felt warmth and friendliness and were reminded once more that no matter what happens, God has given us His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Saviour, and God is in control.
Wherever we are during this Christmas season and whatever restrictions are in place, we all have within us the ability to share the love of God as shown to us in the gift of His Son. We can show that love through our actions both within and outside our families, so that everyone can know that Jesus Christ is indeed the light of the world. Sharing that gift is no doubt far more important than the gifts, the family meal, and blue Christmas tree lights!
Prayer: Father God, You gave us the greatest gift in Your Son Jesus Christ, the source of our love for one another. May we live that love every day, and not be shy about sharing Your great gift with others. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Away In A Manger" (Lyrics)