By Pastor Doug Bankson
On Christmas Eve-Eve, (Dec 23rd, or as I like to call it "Christmas Adam" since Adam came before Eve) we had an unusual occurrence. A grinch of sorts decided they might try to ruin our Christmas: our baby Jesus was stolen from our front yard.
Now I don't know if it was a group of kids or even a disgruntled atheist, but mind you, being a pastor I would love nothing more than to introduce people to Jesus. However, I don't think the perpetrator had receiving Him as Lord in mind. Of course I went out immediately and bought a 7ft blow up manger scene to replace it. You see, for us, it's the message that we want to share with all; that Jesus is the reason for the season!
There are many traditions surrounding Christmas, but the real point is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some question whether we should celebrate Christmas at all, or use certain symbols such as a Christmas tree, pointing to the origins of certain pagan practices. To the Christian, the evergreen represents eternal life found only in Jesus. The lights represent His children surrounding Him as He is the Father of lights. The gifts represent God's gift to us in His Son and all of His many gifts of salvation, grace, gifts of the Spirit, and so much more! The wise men brought gifts from afar to bless and honor Him as well.
In fact, God's first designation of the tree was the planting of the tree of eternal life in the middle of the garden of Eden. Sadly, the first couple instead chose another tree and perverted its purpose as they ate the forbidden fruit, thus separating them from God. But God had a plan to redeem mankind from our sins, and in the fullness of time on that first Christmas morning gave us the greatest gift of all!
But it doesn't stop there, because Jesus came to pay for all of our sins. Once more God chose to use a tree, for it was on the tree of Calvary that the price for sin was paid for all who will receive His free gift of salvation.
He started with the tree of life in the garden and finished it at Calvary!
Christmas is a wonderful commemoration of the Messiah's birth and the exclamation of the angels as they announced the arrival of the focal point of all history! They declared on that first Christmas morning, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men" as they praised the newborn King.
You see, you may try to steal a baby Jesus from a manger scene, but you can't take Christ from Christmas! He lives in the heart of everyone who has prepared him room. And the gift of his love, salvation, and forgiveness is still extended to all who will make room for Him. The real manger is after all, your heart.
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