Luke 1:31-35 (NLT)
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel[a] forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.
John 1:14 (NLT)
14 So the Word became human[a] and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.[b] And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
2 Corinthians 8:9 (NLT)
9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.
In 1954 my dad asked my mother to be his bride. Although exciting, that was not the only wonderful thing that would happen that year. Daddy had always worked faithfully in the church, and after returning home from the military he continued to be a faithful Christian worker. By this time, he was twenty-five years old and had already been elected to hold the position of Sunday School Superintendent for the church.
During this time God gave daddy the idea to start the Annual Christmas Program for the church, and that truly was the other wonderful thing that happened in 1954. Little did he know that 63 years later this program would still be going strong. The blessing is that daddy never missed one program during all those years and it seemed that as he grew older the programs became more and more special to him.
Each year members from our congregation, as well as friends from neighboring church’s, would meet at our church on Christmas Eve for the most spectacular Christmas program. The children would recite their Christmas speeches and others would come to display their talents whether it be reciting a poem, or singing a song, almost everyone would participate in some way or another.
I think that one of the things that made this program so unique, as well as enjoyable, was that it was a very informal program. It was one in which anyone from the audience could just walk up and share what was in their heart about Christmas, or perform in some way if they so desired.
It was almost as though we were sitting at home in our living room taking turns sharing our talents. Everyone felt totally at ease. We would gather and have some congregational Christmas songs, pray and read scriptures before going into our individual presentations. This program was the highlight of everyone’s Christmas.
Another fun thing was the presentation of gifts that had been displayed so beautifully under the Christmas tree. My dad would always ask a few teenagers from the audience to come up and help him pass out the Christmas gifts. As he called out each name, daddy’s helpers would quickly deliver the gifts to each person that they were to be delivered to. You see this was a small congregation and everyone knew each other. Each year they would draw names a few weeks before Christmas and present their gifts to one another at the Christmas program. Everyone enjoyed finally getting to see who had pulled their name.
At the end of the program each year there would be bags filled with fruit and various candies for each person to take home for their own enjoyment. Prior to the program my dad and mom would drive to our nearest town and buy the apples and oranges and candies for the bags. When my parents returned home my dad would call me and my siblings in, to start filling each bag with Christmas goodies. It sorts of resembled an assembly line as we each dropped our goodies in the bags that daddy had lined up for us to fill. My dad would always make sure that he had extra bags filled so that we would have some leftovers to take and share with those who may have been shut in and could not make it to the program. Daddy was a giver so he loved this part of the process.
As the years went by and children started to grow up and move away from home, no matter how far they had moved they would find their way back to that small country church on Christmas Eve night. The little church that was tucked miles away from the nearest town was the place that their hearts longed for on Christmas Eve. It represented fellowship, friendship, and family, but most importantly it represented love.
This tradition was started so that our church family could experience the joy of celebrating Christ birth together. This idea that was placed in my dad’s heart has grown into a tradition that has lasted for 63 years. The program is still looked at as a special tradition in our family, and to those that live in our community.
Many of you have family traditions during the Christmas holidays. My prayer is that you have a family tradition that points back to where it all began, and that is back to the birth of Christ. There should be something in our traditions that helps Christmas remain a blessed and sacred time. Our children should be taught the reason Christ came to this earth, before filling their heads with thoughts of Santa’s, rain deer’s, elves and snowmen.
Please hear my heart on this. We must keep Christ for Christmas so that we don’t ever forget to be in awe of the blessing that was extended to us through the birth of Christ. God sent His only son to this earth to later die a horrific and cruel death in our stead.
Can you imagine the wealthiest of kings relinquishing his crown to be born into total poverty? It is only fitting that on Christmas and every day we praise Him and honor Him for His undeniable expression of love to us.
You may not have a Church program to attend on Christmas Eve, so this Christmas as you gather with your family why not start a new family tradition. Take a moment and ask each person if they would like to share what the birth of Christ means to them.
This may open a door for you to share from your heart, what a blessing his birth has been to you. Through this you may even lead a family member to Christ. Who knows, maybe this new tradition will bless the hearts of those you love for years to come.
As many of you know, my dad went home to be with the Lord on Thanksgiving day of this year. Thanksgiving was also my parent’s 62nd Wedding Anniversary. Although for the first time in 63 years, daddy won’t be at the Christmas Program this year, he will live on through the legacy of this wonderful program. He will also live on through the wonderful Christmas memories that we will forever cherish.
Hopefully, for years to come we will continue to find our way back to that little country church on Christmas Eve night to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My prayer is that Jesus will be your focus during this Christmas season as well.
May your Christmas be one that is filled with much love and one that you will always remember. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Luke 2:10-20 (MSG)
8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!