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An Old Fashioned Christmas

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. Gal 4:4-5

Dear Friends,

How will you celebrate Christmas this year? Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days when I was a child. Christmas seemed to be different then. For one thing the Christmas decorations didn’t come out before Thanksgiving. In our house the Christmas tree didn’t go up until Christmas Eve day. It just seemed that things were a bit slower and a bit more relaxed.

Maybe this year we have an opportunity to celebrate an old fashioned Christmas. Maybe this year we can give our attention to the real reason for the season, at least for a while. An old fashioned Christmas was never about what gifts you could give to each other or what you were going to receive, but an old fashioned Christmas was first and foremost about God’s love for you! The gift given at the Savior’s birth was God coming down to earth to deliver you from bondage and enslavement to sin and to defeat death so that you would inherit eternal life. It seems however that this celebration is no longer focused on the gift of God, in the person of God’s son Jesus, but on the gifts of people.

Specifically we wonder what will I get or how expensive should our gifts be? Will that person like the gift I am giving them? In my childhood sometimes I was tempted to complain when I received clothing for Christmas. I remember one Christmas in particular. At school we would always draw names for exchanging gifts during our school Christmas par-ties. As we opened our gifts one particular year everyone got something new and shiny like a game or a toy car or a book. I got a knit stocking cap. I was very disappointed. As I look back on that gift years later I realized that it was perhaps the best gift given that year. You see it came from a boy whose family was very poor. They couldn’t afford to buy a gift, but his mother could knit and she made me that hat. It was a very special gift, but I didn’t appreciate it until years later. During this season we are called to recognize that very special gift that God has given to us.

Now you might be asking, “Pastor, does that mean we should not give and receive gifts?” No, that is not what I had in mind when I invited you to celebrate an old fashioned Christmas. Rather I invite each family who reads this letter to celebrate this Christmas by giving priority to those things that are most important in this life, and in the life to come. I ask you to remember that Christmas is the time of the year, where we demonstrate like no other, that our faith is cen-tered in God’s generosity. By gifting us with the redemption accomplished through the birth of Jesus Christ, God has offered the final word on how no sin of ours can separate us from the eternal faith, hope, love, and joy offered in this special season.

May you all have a very joyous holiday season and may your home celebrate an old fashioned Christmas this year and always.

Merry Christmas to you all,
Pastor Bob Schoenknecht

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