By Gueary Clendening
Christmas is just around the corner and will be here soon. We all have special Christmas stories in our memory treasure chest. My wife, Linda and I were young pastors in Chester, a small town in Southern Illonois. By the way, Chester is the home town of the fellow who created the cartoon character Popeye. It was Christmas time and we were wondering what to get her grandparents for Christmas. They lived alone and had no pets. We decided to buy them a parakeet. Okay, so how are we going to keep the gift a secret until the time to open gifts?
We wrapped the cage with the bird inside in christmas paper. Everyone agreed to shout or sing if the bird started to Chirp. As our families gathered, the grandparents were puzzled by the sudden shouts and singing that frequently erupted. We were all laughing and having a good time. However, it wasn’t long before the Parakeet out shined us all and the secret was revealed. What a beautiful Christmas that was! The happiness written on the faces of Linda’s grandparents as they tore the wrapping paper off the cage and found their gift is a memory I will always cherish.
I wonder what it was like in heaven that first Christmas when the Son of God was born in Bethlehem; did the bells of Heaven ring? Were there shouts of joy and praise in celebration of the glorious event? Just as the prophet Isaiah had foretold long before, “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign, behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (meaning God with us) Isaih 7:14.
I’m sure heaven was rejoicing, because out in a shepherd’s field an angel appeared to the shepherd saying, “Fear not, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.” I like this part: “and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2:10-11,13,14).
This is God’s special gift to us! For God so loved the world, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16. This is why God sent His Son into the world on Christmas day. Gifts always cost the giver, and for God it cost him his dearest possession. No greater love and gift can be given than what God gave that first Christmas morning. No wonder the angels came to announce the birth of Christ. For all of us, a saviour was born to bring joy, peace and the reality of belonging to God forever. So, what is our part? It is to turn from our sins, believe in Him and receive God’s special gift. I pray that this Christmas may be the greatest Christmas ever for you and your family. And if you have not already done so, that you will receive the saviour into your life, God’s very special gift. Merry Christmas!