One of my all-time favorite Christmas gifts was a 1957 Lionel train set given to me by my grandfather before my first birthday. The train set had five or six cars including the engine and the caboose. Every year our family would take the train cars out of the boxes and assemble the track around the Christmas tree. When our kids, Drew and Ashley, were small we kept the tradition going, unpacking the train and placing it around the Christmas tree. I still have that old train but it’s been packed away in its original boxes for years.
Another of my all-time favorite Christmas gifts sits on the book shelf in my home office, two old slot cars from a slot car race set given to me as Christmas gift from my parents when I was a little boy. (One of the cars is a Mustang; that’s probably as close as I’ll ever get to owning a Mustang. :) I no longer have the plastic race track that the cars ran on, however the two cars sit on my bookshelf for much the same reason I keep the train, there are so many fond family memories attached to them.
Over the years I’ve been given many wonderful Christmas gifts and truth be told maybe a few not so wonderful gifts. Gifts like a reindeer sweater that at the time I thought was so comfortable and fashionable that I wore it every weekend for years. (I think Wendy got rid of it just a year or two ago, I kind of miss it.) :(
But without question the greatest Christmas gift I’ve been given is the gift of the Christ child and here’s the thing; the gift of the Christ child is a gift that belongs to me but not only to me. The newborn Christ is a gift given to all of us.
I love how the gospel writers all put a bit of a different spin on Jesus’ birth. Matthew starts out by giving us Jesus family genealogy. Mark tells the story of John pointing to Jesus telling the people get ready, one more powerful than I is on the way. Luke, one of my favorite Christmas gospels starts out with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, then Luke tells the story of Mary’s yes, yes to a God’s plan that she didn’t understand but nevertheless Mary said yes. John is more theological, John goes back to the very start of creation “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” No shepherds, no angels, John gets right to the point.
These old, old stories, the stories of the birth of Christ handed down by my parents, grandparents, Sunday school teachers, family, and friends are without question the greatest gifts ever given me.
But here’s the thing: the story of the birth of the Christ child is meant to be shared. These stories shouldn’t be hidden in the basement like my old train set. The stories of Jesus’ birth don’t belong on a book shelf like my tiny race cars. These are the story of God’s love for all of God’s people. And these are the stories that we are called to share.
Christmas peace and blessing,