Faith Matters

Jesus, the Greatest Gift

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From childhood, Christmas was my favorite event. Dad would lead us kids to hunt a small cedar or pine for a Christmas tree. Mother made home-made decorations for the tree, such as strings of popcorn, pine cones, and sprigs of holly berries. After electricity came to our Blue Ridge valley, we also strung strings of colored lights on the tree and in windows.

We kids knew we would get knitted stockings and caps since Mother spent hours and days knitting them. We were all boys until a sister, Virginia, was born in answer to Mother’s prayers. Our toys were few, perhaps toy cap pistols or a gun shooting pellets. However, we always received warm clothing like knitted caps and mittens.

I recall one year when Dad brought in a wild turkey gobbler for Christmas dinner. Mother would tell about the birth of Jesus in a manger and the bright star appearing to the poor shepherds in the fields where angels sang and told them where to find Jesus. We also learned of the visit of the Wise Men with their rich gifts.

I am rich because I have those who love me and are faithful friends, but most of all, I have Jesus, who is the real reason for Christmas.

We kids hung our long wool stockings on the mantle over the fireplace and on Christmas morning would race from the bedrooms to put on our clothes by the fire which Dad had blazing for us before he went to the barn to feed and milk the cows. Before Christmas Eve we cracked walnuts by the warm fireplace for Mother to use in baking cakes.

About the time I was leaving home, artificial trees appeared, but we kids liked looking for one in the woods. Times were changing! Then, as now, the greatest gift was Jesus the Savior who was born in a stable in Bethlehem of Judea. Rich Wise Men, with gifts, led by a special star, came to pay Him homage. Poor shepherds in the fields guarding their flock were visited by a host of angels who glorified God and told the shepherds where the baby Jesus lay.

Jesus, the greatest gift, brings the promise of forgiveness and eternal life for all who repent and believe in Him. I’m so glad I wasn’t forgotten there in a small valley among the Blue Ridge Mountains and had good parents who told us children the true meaning of Christmas. In a world of evil, unbelieving people, Jesus came and dwelt among us, worked as a carpenter, and remained true to his mission of bearing all our sins upon himself, who had not sinned.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for not giving up on me, for walking with me even when I did not deserve it. Through a life of constant change and on great journeys on land, sea and air, to far countries and wars, you remained through the good and bad. I am rich because I have those who love me and are faithful friends, but most of all, I have Jesus, who is the real reason for Christmas.

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