by Michelle Welch
There was a time in my life when I was harsh and judgmental of people who only attended church at major holidays. I would get annoyed when our pastor would ask us to come to a service a little earlier or later or even the day before to allow room for the volume of people who show up on Christmas Eve. Why should I give up MY seat, in MY church, near MY friends? Why should I take time out of my busy holiday schedule to volunteer to be an extra greeter when it was quite probable that I would never see these people again? Didn’t they know that I had a house full of guests? A turkey to cook? Presents to wrap? Toys to buy?
But truth be told, way back then, I didn’t truly understand the meaning of Christmas. I was as lost as they were. Christmas meant lots of money being spent. Clothes being bought to look just right at the Christmas service. Hundreds of cookies baked to give away to the neighbors so they would know just what a wonderful Christian woman I was. Try to make sure the person ringing the bell noticed the size of the bill I was placing into their kettle. Christmas was all about me, never about Christ.
I realize now that for so many years I didn’t give the gift that is Christmas to anyone. I took it for myself. I selfishly wrapped my arms around the entire idea of Christmas and pushed aside everyone who got in my way, especially anyone who was a stranger.
The first Christmas after I invited Christ to live in my heart, I attended 22 Christmas services. Yes. Twenty two. I couldn’t get enough of them. I wanted to experience that feeling over and over and over again. I wanted to sing those carols and look around the church at the beautiful faces above those glowing candles. I wanted to shake hands with everyone, hug more than my share of strangers, smile at everyone who came across my path.
Now I certainly am not saying that you should go to 22 Christmas services. That would be crazy! But what I am saying is that Christmas is not ours to keep. It is ours to give away. Christ came as a gift from God. Emmanuel. God with us. He is our greatest gift, our greatest treasure. And when we give someone the gift of knowing who Christ is, we receive even more than we give.
In Luke 6:38 we are told “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” Let those words sink in just a minute. So if we give the gift of knowing Christ away, more of Him will be given to us. In huge amounts. So much that we won’t be able to contain it all. Can you even fathom what a blessing that will be?
This Christmas our prayer for you, dear reader friends, is that you get to either give away or receive the gift that is Christ during this most glorious celebration of His Birth. So much so that He overflows into your life and onto everyone you meet. Or that while you are standing in church, lost and alone, the only gift that matters will shower down upon you and wrap you in the warmth that is the greatest gift you will ever receive.
Merry Christmas dear friends.
Jenny, Freida, Ingrid, and Michelle
© Michelle Welch 2014 Breath Of Life Women’s Ministries
Photography by Michelle Welch, all rights reserved
Give Christmas Away by Matthew West and Amy Grant
Operation Christmas Child by Samaritans Purse (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/)