By Marsha M. Brown
Most of us are worn down and worn out when it comes to the commercialism that surrounds us before Christmas. Stores that are just clearing the racks of other holidays seem to sneak in very early reminders that the most beautiful time of year is coming soon and that we should get in the mindset of ‘shop til you drop’. Sometimes we’re a bit agitated thinking about the push for buying gifts before we know what we’re getting loved ones and even before we have the money to buy them. But really when I think about the real…I mean r-e-a-l meaning of Christmas all the hype just fades away.
The thing is…Christmas IS a time of giving. It’s the time that God gave His son to bless this world; to teach us and comfort us; to heal us and to show us His great love for all of us.
Now, I understand that some of you who read this GIG LINE might say, “Hold on now…your faith is not my faith!” And some of you might argue when Jesus was born at a different day and time and…some may challenge or debate that He was ever even born at all…and that’s up to you, I just know this. I don’t know what I would have done throughout my life without Him.
And when I think about gifts? If you search the meaning of ‘gift’ its described as “given freely” and when I think about all the gifts’ we appreciate every day, it all makes sense. Consider this for a minute…our tax dollars help support our military, right? Investors build hospitals and nursing homes, right? But at the heart of each is the men and women who love our country and what we stand for and their gift to our democracy is themselves…their brilliance, their tenacity, their courage, their strength and sometimes their life. And when you think about the hospitals, especially St. Jude’s and the Shriner’s hospitals and their staff where countless children are embraced and comforted and where parents are supported through extremely difficult battles with their children’s health praying for recovery…those are just a few examples of gifts you cannot buy…anywhere for any sum. And what this all comes down to is love…the love God had for us…and the love we have for each other. Make no mistake…love IS the greatest gift of all.
Lately I’ve thought a lot about Mary and Joseph and their 80-mile journey to Bethlehem to protect their unborn baby…across a dessert – can you just envision this for a second? A young woman at nearly nine months pregnant riding on a donkey? But they were on a mission to bring into the world the Lord Jesus Christ…someone who would change the world forever; someone who would influence us and instill in us goodness, care for one another and the most important thing we could have within ourselves…love.
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Joseph? Quite a man, I would say. He followed God’s divine lead to trust that Mary told the truth…that as a virgin she was with child. He had courage to believe when it seemed utterly impossible, but his faith enabled them to strike out together on a long, uncomfortable trek to the destination for which God had intended.
The story is one we hear about and see images of in church plays and, in the movies, but do we really appreciate the essence of what they went through? And the beautiful outcome that followed? A result of their obedience that has touched our lives throughout history. Just think about it, folks, its truly incredible.
December 25th is the date we celebrate every year and the inspiration of God’s gift to mankind…it was the beginning of gift giving, love and affection for others…a means of making people happy and of being kind and generous. Even the three wise men wanted to bring gifts to celebrate the miraculous birth of Christ. So, I guess my point is this. Don’t feel bad about celebrating Christmas…it is a glorious time of year, we just all need to be cognizant of how this gift giving tradition started and why and at the same time to not forget the extraordinary gift giver…our Lord and Savior.
Personally, I am thankful for God’s gifts to me…His son, His assurance He would never leave me nor forsake me; the gift of the most wonderful, patriotic U. S. Army veteran husband I could have dreamed of; all the years we had together before Billy took His hand; the children and grandchildren we brought into this world together that I love so much and for all our servicemen and women at home and abroad who are on constant standby to protect us and our homeland; all the medical personnel who care for the sick and for everyone who serves to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We have so many gifts every single day to appreciate and enjoy…thank you Lord.
You all…each one of you who are a veteran or love(d) a veteran is a gift to me too. Your cards, letters and calls touch my heart deeply. You are a treasure that I hold dear and you make me happy. As veterans you have touched this world, even when you don’t realize it. And you soldiers, airmen, seamen & Marines (didn’t forget Lee B. ) I am proud of you and I love you all. I miss my Billy every day and when I see you or hear from you, I feel that while I can’t see my husband, he’s not far away. And just as God held Billy up and through Vietnam, Billy’s love and respect for all of you…his brothers and sisters…hold me up today too.
I wish all of you a beautiful, touching and special Merry Christmas this year especially and that it will be one that you will remember and cherish for a very long time. If you know a veteran or anyone in need of help, a friend to talk to, food or shelter, please reach out to someone for help for them because I believe God will bless you for it. If you’d like to write to me, I’d love to hear from you at [email protected] or call my cell: (252) 202-2058.
Until next time, hug each other tighter, say “I love you” to people you’ve never said it to before; forgive those who have hurt you in one way or another and just realize that no matter what you have done that you wish you hadn’t in your life that we all have regrets, we just need to forgive ourselves and embrace the goodness in each one of us. We are worthy of forgiveness because we have a Father who loves us far beyond what our eyes can see.
I wish wonderful things for you in the coming year. Realize that we are here for a reason, so let’s all make it count! Be proud, be safe and be happy. Stay tuned.