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Our Reason for celebration

God’s Christmas Gift of Eternal Life

Christmas is a time for giving and receiving gifts, and I wonder whether any FAITH readers remember Christmas gifts the way I do. I grew up during the Great Depression, and as much as I loved my parents the giving was mostly from them to me. They always managed to have several gifts for each of us kids under the Christmas tree.

Their gifts were usually practical ones like clothes during these tough years, but there were some special gifts more memorable than others. I can still remember them and the year I got them: Ice skates in the 5th grade (that was in 1934); a Bulova wristwatch in the 8th grade (in 1937, the year I got an all-A report card for the first time); an electric razor in my senior year (1941, when Dad was proud of the fuzz on my chin).

But the main gift for everybody at Christmas is not anything like the above or like others you may remember. We are reminded of THE Gift of Christmas every time we see the fellow behind home plate at the World Series, or behind the goal posts at the Super Bowl, or under the baskets at the NCAA finals, when he raises up the yellow sign with “John 3:16” in black print. It’s the text that tells it all about gift-giving – “God so loved the world that He GAVE His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

In this Jubilee Year, the Christian world is celebrating the 2000th anniversary of the Incarnation in Bethlehem, God’s great Gift to the human race and the reason for gift-giving at Christmas. In every nation and culture that includes Christians, gifts are exchanged at Christmas out of sheer joy and exuberance over God’s Christmas Gift to the human race.

St. Paul writes often in his epistles about gifts. But he states flatly, “THE gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). So we should join in Paul’s “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (II Corinthians 9:15).

In the rush of preparations for Christmas and shopping for it, people of FAITH will keep in mind that the reason for it all is God’s great Christmas Gift to us.