The Meaning of Christmas
Jesus is God’s gift of not only of love, but of reconciliation. As we once again unwrap God’s Christmas present we are once again open to receiving the gift of eternal life, and to belonging to God’s family. Christmas celebrates how our Christian family was brought together and brought to life by the love of God wrapped in swaddling clothes. No one is left outside of this joy. Everyone can be forgiven, everyone is welcome. That’s why Christmas is above all the celebration of family.
The Gospel tells us that Jesus gave us power. The gift of Christmas is the power to unwrap and unleash God’s life, joy, happiness, and peace within our individual families first and then among our broader human family. But I think we are more familiar with super-heroes and their super hero powers.
Instead of the ability to be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, we have been given the power to become children of God. Through a wonderful exchange of natures, Jesus became a human, so humans can become Gods.
Thinking about it, it’s quite ridiculous. God so loved the idea of human beings that the Father created the whole world –including you and me– for his Son. Why? so that his Son could forever be human. This is like saying that being human is better than being God. It’s unfathomable, it’s ridiculous, and yet we are called to share in the life of God’s only begotten Son. This began at Christmas. All people are caught up in this plan, no one is outside of this joy. This is the true joy of Christmas. Merry Christmas.
Now, children: What are the best presents to get from Santa? Tell me! …What does receiving a gift mean? It says, “I love you. You are so special to me that I want to give you my present.” And that’s what God says to us each Christmas, “I love you so much that I gave you my only Son, so you can share in his life, and in his happiness. Merry Christmas!”
Okay, I have one last story about the real meaning of presents.
Once upon a time, there was a man who worked very hard just to keep food on the table for his family. This particular year a few days before Christmas, he punished his little five-year-old daughter after learning that she had used up the family's only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper.
As money was tight, he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve he saw that the child had used all of the expensive gold paper to decorate one shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree. He also was concerned about where she had gotten money to buy what was in the shoebox.
Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy!"
As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her.
But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. "Don't you know, young lady," he said harshly, "when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside the package!"
The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: "Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full."
The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.
An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.
In a very real sense, each of us has been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and God. There is no more precious gift anyone could have.