Artificial or real tree? Christmas music before or after Thanksgiving? Presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Church before or after Christmas Dinner? Pumpkin or pecan pie? How many members of your family celebrate together?
These are just a few of the questions our team has discussed as we approach the Christmas season! We all celebrate Christmas in such different ways! Johanna, who is from Germany, puts out her clean shoe on December 5 to allow St. Nick to fill it with candy for December 6! Several of us think that Christmas music is unacceptable prior to Thanksgiving – though we may now hear it filling the van! Most of us celebrate with our families gathering together for gifts.
Despite all of the differences, our whole team seems to be getting a little bit more excited for Christmas now that Thanksgiving has come and gone. One of the blessings of Christmas while we’re on team is getting to go home for the holiday! My plane ticket is booked for both my flight home and return, I’ve arranged to have my parents pick me up at the airport, and I get to celebrate by helping with Christmas Eve worship with my home congregation, Spirit of Hope.
But before I go home, I get to experience a few more host homes and few more nights with my team. In Johnstown, PA, my teammate Johanna and I were given a tour of their central park by our host mom. They had already decorated for Christmas and she told us of their Christmas Parade and Santa lighting up the park. We get to hear a few more stories of Christmas Holidays past and what this year may hold.
And through it all, we get to share the gospel. We get to celebrate the birth of a savior who changed the world as we know it. And in that celebration, we remember the pain that comes with living in our fallen world. We know we are broken and bruised, imperfect, unlike our savior. But his coming into the world means that God loves us so much that he desires only the best for us. His son walked on earth, was crucified on a cross, and rose again to promise us grace and eternal life. That’s the true story of Christmas.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.