I was asked to share at our Christmas Eve service what Christmas means to me. This is what I shared:
Christmas has meant different things to me over the years. As a child, wondering what was in the packages under the tree was the most important thing. In fact, I would begin to wonder shortly after Christmas what the coming year would bring.
Along with that were the excursions with my parents to see the decorated houses. We’d drive to see Portland’s Petticoat Lane and other neighborhoods which decked the outside of their homes with lights, carolers, and other festive items. And of course there was the excursion into our wooded property (or our neighbors) to find the perfect tree.
When I married and began a family, the fun was in finding just the right gift for each of the children and then watching them open them on Christmas morning. And let’s not forget all the cartoons; Charlie Brown, the Grinch, Rudolph etc.
There were the Christmas programs, here at church and also at school which I watched with delight as each of our children performed their parts; and I treasure all of these memories.
However, I realize that as much fun as all of these traditions have been; the hurry scurry of preparing and shopping for the day of celebration sometimes kept me from truly experiencing what Christmas means.
I have come to realize the most meaningful aspect of Christmas for me, is the time spent reflecting quietly on how much God loves all of us. The lighting of the advent candles each Sunday, culminating in this Christmas Eve service slows us down for a brief time to truly contemplate what Christmas is about: God knew from the beginning he’d send His son someday to live among His people. That day over 2,000 years ago, God interrupted the comings and goings of all living creation and slipped Himself into our world. The purpose: to live amongst us, experience the world He created, to eventually share His love through His words and actions and then allow Himself to be sacrificed, to pay the ultimate price for our sins, so that we could be reconciled to the Holy God.
And that is what Christmas means to me.
What does it mean to you? Please share your thoughts. I'd love to hear what you think.