Stephanie begins a series entitled “The 12 Days of Christmas,” and unusually, begins with the story of the Prodigal Son. She concludes that we have wasted our heavenly Father’s gifts, yet He welcomes us with open arms.
Memories From Christmases Past
I want to explore a dozen memories from Christmases past, what these memories can teach us about the true meaning of Christmas, and what they can teach us about family life. Let’s get started.
One thing I remember is stockings so full they were too heavy to leave tacked in the doorway between the kitchen and the dining room. (This was our version of hanging stockings on the mantle. We didn’t have a fireplace when I was growing up.)
Admittedly, as the youngest of three children and the only one still at home for several years, I was spoiled. My mom loved to give and she was exceedingly generous.
The Prodigal Son
In some ways, this memory reminds me of the story of the prodigal son. Jesus told the story of a wealthy man who had two sons. His youngest was impatient and wanted his inheritance long before he was ready to use it wisely.
For a time, he enjoyed the parties and the friends. He was living life in the fast lane—until the money was gone. Then it was no more parties, no more friends. The young man got so desperate he hired himself out to feed pigs—and found himself wishing someone would offer him a portion of their food. What a difference to the life he had been leading!
He knew he wasn’t worthy to be called his father’s son, but maybe—just maybe, he could get a job as one of his servants. At least he’d have food to eat and a place to sleep. But boy was he in for a surprise!
Verses 20-24 of Luke 15 say,
“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
The Prodigal Son And Christmas
What does this story have to do with Christmas?
Well, we are the prodigals who have squandered God’s lavish and abundant gifts and yet, because our heavenly Father has sent the gift of His Son, He has made a way for us to return to Him. And when we accept the best gift of all—salvation through faith in Jesus Christ—God is waiting with open arms.
While the Lord could demand that we become His servants, instead, He invites us to become His sons and daughters. John 1:12 says, “To all who did receive him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” And Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” Now that’s reason to celebrate!
And speaking of a celebration, in the NIV, Luke 15:10 says,
“There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
There is rejoicing in heaven, God’s dwelling place, over every single individual who comes to saving faith. That’s incredible!
The prodigal’s father celebrated when his lost son returned home. The inhabitants of heaven celebrate when a lost son or daughter comes to faith in Christ and joins God’s family. Take time to let that sink in.
When I was growing up, Christmas was a wonderful celebration. Though I received countless gifts I certainly didn’t need, in her own way, my mom tried to keep the focus on Jesus and His birth.
How can we connect gift-giving with the Greatest Gift of All?
We can teach our children that God the Father sent His Son and that personally accepting this gift is the most important decision they will ever make.
We can step back from the busyness of the season to deliberately focus on that first Christmas.
We can discuss together what the Greatest Gift means in our day-to-day life.
We can also teach our children to share the love of the Lord with others. We can encourage them to spend more time thinking about what they can give rather than what they want to get.
As a family, we can decide how to reach out and share the true story of God’s Greatest Gift with others during the holiday season. We must remember to do so in word and deed. While it’s important to share the story using words, it’s also good to remember that for many people “actions speak louder than words.”
Let’s focus on Jesus Christ, the Greatest Gift of All-Time.
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.
Stephanie’s show, “Family Life Lessons,” airs from Monday to Friday on HopeStreamRadio.
More About Christmas
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Randy Bushey – Spiritual Warfare
Rebekah Hughes – Go Forward
Ron and Crawford – Deeper Relationships in the Church
Images courtesy of:
Nativity Scene – Susan H
Christmas Bells – Dragan Sasic
Christmas Gift – XX Lawrence