What is the true meaning of Christmas?

Published 3:11 pm Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas is the time of year for making memories. I remember as a child, all the family was home. My sister, Charlene, was back from college with my future brother-in-law. My oldest high school brother, Bob, who always had an unbelievable story to tell, was there with my frail but brilliant brother, Cal. Gentle Dad, the pastor, and Mom the Julia Child wanna-be completed the circle. As siblings we would sit on the floor in the glow of the Christmas tree and the fireplace, surrounded by such love, we would play Monopoly for hours.

I remember Christmas morning, opening our one gift and stocking from Santa and gifts from each other. My best Christmas gift ever was a Zorro set Bob gave me. He paid big bucks to charm the life of little brother.

Ah, Christmas dinner, the groaning table was crowded with family. We held hands and listened to Dad pray with sincere tears full of faith, joy and gratitude for the gift of his family and goodness of God’s gift to us all.

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Memories of Christmas would not be complete without hearing the Christmas story read, acted out in bathrobe costumes or sweetly sung by children who would never be asked to be in most adult church choirs.

Although everyone wanted to be Mary, Joseph, or the pivotal innkeeper, the part I longed for, but was disqualified by reason of gender, was the angel who told Mary, “With God all things are possible.” That daring hope is the true meaning of Christmas.

As a pastor I am sometimes baptized into the sadness, grief, pain and tears of dear folks who face incredible challenges: everything from deployment, divorce, and the untimely death of one so young.

I could never be the pastor I hope to be without hope. I could never face wounded, hurting lives without the memory of the angel’s words, “With God all things are possible.”

If God could become man, and demonstrate in life his love for humankind, if God can forgive our failures to Father God and one another and in the process conquer death, then we can truly believe and embrace “the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).

This hope is not a feeling, but a confidence based on God’s Word; words that cannot be broken.

This “all things are possible” is hope not just for nations, but also for little people like you and me. Hope to believe miracles can still happen today.

For sure, an “all things are possible” miracle is coming some day for us all.

This Christmas as I will sit around another groaning, grateful table with family, but without my Dad, or Mom, without my perfect sister or my mischievous teddy bear older brother. Hope promises me I will one day sit with them. We will gather around another, greater table and maybe even play Monopoly, dance, sing together and certainly laugh. It won’t be boring, because we will be together forever with them and many more, and every tear will be wiped away, and all will be well. Perfection is coming.

I occasionally run into people who tell me I’m too hopeful, too unrealistic, and a naive dreamer. I quietly ask, “What is the alternative?”

May your Christmas be filled with memories that give you hope.

Carl J. LeMon Sr. is the pastor at Ebenezer Church.