It's getting closer to Christmas Day. You may have all your Christmas shopping done, and, then again, maybe you are still looking for that perfect gift for someone. The closer it gets to Christmas, the more pressure you may experience. Maybe you can identify with the following story.
A mother had been Christmas shopping with her two children. She had spent many hours looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable. She had listened to her children ask for everything they saw on those many shelves. She finally made it to an elevator in a department store with her two kids. She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season: Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday foods and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sends us a card.
Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd inside. She pushed her way in and dragged her two kids and all the bags of stuff in with her. When the doors closed, she couldn't take it anymore and she said, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot."
From the back of the elevator a quiet calm voice respond, "Don't worry lady; they already found him and crucified him." For the rest of the trip down the elevator, it was so quiet you could have heard a bell jingle.
I'm sure it was a bit of a shock for the woman to think about what the unidentified person said. It is easy during the Christmas season to forget what it is that is being celebrated. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. We're not just celebrating some good feeling or a holiday from work or the "season of gift giving." We are celebrating the birth of the one who came to give us a full, unhindered, unsullied, view of the living God. We celebrate the birth of one about whom the angels said, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
It's no wonder that Christmas is associated with singing, joy and gift giving. At the birth of Jesus, angels sang, shepherds were overjoyed and magi gave gifts.
I read about a wife who told her husband on Christmas morning, "You're a wonderful husband; you gave me just what I need to exchange for what I want." That's not the case with the gift God gave us. He didn't give us a gift that we have to exchange. He gave us a gift that we really need. God gave us a savior. The angels said that the name was given because He would save his people from their sins. This old world needs a savior. You don't live long until you realize that this world is not perfect. It's not perfect because we're not perfect. God takes care of that with one great gift: His son. He's the gift we all need, because He can change imperfect lives.
You may be rushed and stressed this Christmas season, but remember one thing: God loved you so much that He took time to give you the perfect gift. He gave His only son for you. Jesus is the gift that brings joy, peace, forgiveness and heaven. You just need to open the gift and receive it to have the best Christmas you've ever had.
Scott Williamson is senior pastor at Glacier Valley Baptist Church.