Shopping, shopping, shopping. We’ve been inundated all month long with sales pitches for every product imaginable! Last year’s Hatchimals were a big hit, as were last decade’s Furby and last century’s roller skates! I remember the Christmas when I found a bright blue, shiny bicycle sitting beside the tinseled tree on Christmas morning.
We all have fond memories of Christmas, whether it was last year or 80 years ago. As children, our best memories centered around the gifts; as we grow older, we realize that what we treasure most changes. The best gifts aren’t always things, but people and time with family: The familiar knock at the front door, the warmth of those once-a-year hugs, that unmistakable aroma of Aunt Carolyn’s corn meal stuffing, the banter at a decked-out dinner table. Those are memories that tug at our hearts; they’re irreplaceable.
But there is something even better, gifts that will last forever. What if you could give peace for Christmas? Joy would be wonderful! We all could use some hope, right? And who wouldn’t like more love this season? These might sound like your basic cliche, found so prominently in cologne commercials on TV. What if I told you that you CAN have these life-altering gifts? Here’s how:
Peace. The very best way to give a lasting peace to someone is through forgiveness. Has someone wronged you during your life? Has a vicious lie messed up your career? Are you bitterly holding a grudge? It’s time to let it go. Forgive. Reconcile. Write the grievous event on a piece of paper and burn it. It won’t change the past, but I guarantee, you will be liberated. That’s peace.
Joy. Joy is not happiness; joy is a way of life when you choose to see the good side of experiences, to realize the good that is in life and the immeasurable reward of extending yourself to others. Being a blessing is the key to living a joyful life! Choose to somehow be a blessing every day, and you will have joy.
Hope. The adage, “a friend in need is a friend indeed” tells it all. None of us is perfect. We will each have a time in our lives when we can’t find our way, and all we see is darkness. And it’s usually a family member or trusted friend who helps lead us out into the light again. Encourage someone, and be that trusted friend.
Love. Love is that invisible emotion that is so powerful it can change someone’s entire life. Love’s meaning gets confused these days. Love is not sex. Love is not euphoria. Love doesn’t depend on hormones or springtime or mistletoe, and it doesn’t mean never having to say “you’re sorry.” Love is patient, love is kind… Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; love never ends.
There is one place where you can get every one of these everlasting gifts: through Jesus Christ. God sent his Son to pay for OUR sins, and in doing so, he gave us love — for God IS love. Through his offer of everlasting life, he gives us continued hope. And when we finally accept his gracious gift, we have unbridled joy and a peace that nobody can ever take from us.
Your shopping days are over; Jesus offers these gifts all year long! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!
The writer is the pastor at Sidney First Presbyterian Church.