Each year, people get caught up in the celebration of Christmas with gifting, visiting, eating
and enjoying their families and friends. Even as I do, they tend to push the real reason for the
holiday to the back burner in favor of the more commercial aspect of the time.

This is a time of the year when old hurts are downplayed and we speak openly to each other
with more warmth and cordiality than in the previous eleven months. That in itself is a good
thing, but it would be much better if we could be so warm and cordial all the time and not just
through a special holiday.

If we are caught up in grief, or grief recovery, Christmas can be a very dark time for us as we
are focused on our loss of a loved one, be they family member or dear friend.  We lost our
youngest daughter on November 14 many years ago, and as we drove to visit my father for
Thanksgiving, I felt as though I was forgetting to bring something very important. That
incomplete feeling stayed with me for a very long time, and not until I had accepted the loss
of Paula did the feeling subside.

We can all take comfort in knowing that even in a death, there are blessings we can embrace
given by our Lord. He sent his son Jesus Christ to save us and bring us to Himself when we
leave this earthly place. Christ was crucified to ransom us from our sins and assure us a
place with His heavenly Father in our hereafter. With the death of our loved ones, we can be
assured that they are at home with God for eternity leaving us with wonderful memories of
them we will cherish the rest of our lives.

We run around and shop for just the right gift for those on our lists because we want them to
enjoy our thoughtfulness, and we receive well-chosen gifts from others' lists with equal
enjoyment. But the greatest gift of all for Christmas is the one that the Lord gave to us: Life
everlasting. Yet, He didn't run around shopping for the perfect gift for us; He had only one gift
in mind and it came from His heart of hearts: His only begotten son, Jesus Christ. He came to
live among us in the form of Jesus to experience our wants and desires, and in doing so, He
learned of our deep sinful nature.

It took Him 33 years to arrange for our gift, and then He presented it to us in a most painful
and unselfish way: Jesus' death by crucifixion. But that death was not the end of the story; it
was only the beginning as He was resurrected on the third day and taken up to live with His
father in heaven. His gift prepared the way for us to follow in our death, and as well, the
death of our loved ones.

Through God's gift to us, we should not grieve the loss of our loved ones; we should rejoice
that they have gone home to be with the Lord only a little before us. When we give and
receive our holiday gifts this Christmas, let us all remember the true meaning and purpose of
Christmas and give thanks for the greatest gift that can be given. It is unique in that no one
can ever match the majesty of it; no one can duplicate it, and no one can top it! Our gift is so
magnificent that words alone cannot describe it: That gift is eternal salvation, from God,
through Jesus Christ for all time to come. Thanks be to God!


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