"I am in charge of my Sunday School class's Christmas program. In 2009 our
Sunday school program was special to me. For our program, I taught the kids
Happy Birthday Jesus by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. We had a party for Christ
for our program. Each kid had a "gift" to give Christ for Christmas. When
I mentioned the idea to the kids, they were excited and started telling me
things they could do for it. Two or three wrote a poem, several played a
song on various instruments (flute, piano, guitar), one (4 year old) did
Silent Night in sign language and a couple girls sang a duet together. We
had several parents and grandparents show up to see their kid "perform."
We ended it with the poem "What Can I give Him?" (I will give him my heart).
I took a moment and told the congregation that all God wanted is us, presented
salvation's plan and I gave an invitation to pray. It was one of the easiest,
most fun and meaningful program we had ever had. Even though no one came
up and prayed, we planted a seed.
"Several came up afterwards and said they really enjoyed it. I remember my
father in law coming up to me and telling me how much he really enjoyed the
program and said it really blessed him, was one of the best he could ever
remember. That is especially precious to me as I lost my father in law the
next spring (April 14, 2010). And even though we miss him, we know where
he is and that we can go too. For this year he is spending Christmas with
Jesus." Teresa Green, Thayer, MO
"Just want to share our annual Christmas tradition at my in-laws house. My
husband is a minister and for the past several years, before the chaos of
opening gifts and all the commotion that comes along with it, we get the
Bible and each of the children that are old enough to read will take a verse
or so of the "Christmas Story" and read and pass it on to the next child
to read. This is a very special moment that reminds us of what Christmas
is actually about. There are usually around 15-20 gathered in the living
room. Its a blessing to hear them read it; and it gives each of us
a time of reflection on the Christmas season." Judy Bargo
"I had admired a particular house every time we drove through this ritzy
section of town. On this particular Saturday morning, there was a "For Sale"
sign out front as well as a "Yard Sale" sign. I could not resist the temptation
to stop, just to get a closer look at this beautiful house.
"While looking around at the items for sale, I overheard family conversations
that led me to believe that the husband had left his wife and children and
they were having to downsize and move to an apartment. I happened to have
a copy of our testimony tract in my purse, sharing the story of how my husband
Lorne and I had been separated for two years and God had healed our marriage
many years ago. I gave a copy to the lady of the house and departed.
"The next day was Sunday. I don't normally "yard sale" on Sunday but I decided
on my way home from church to stop and check on an item I had seen. When
I arrived at the house, people were carrying packed boxes and putting them
in a van. I asked the lady of the house about the item; "everything that
is left is in that corner" as she pointed in that direction. I couldn't help
but notice one of the most beautiful artificial Christmas trees I had ever
seen and I asked what the price was. She looked at me with brokenness in
her eyes and very sternly said "I want you to HAVE that Christmas tree".
I said "Oh, No, I would not do that", but she kept insisting; in fact, she
begged me to take it and she said "I REALLY want you to have this tree".
"That was several years ago and every year I have a true "Christmas" experience
as we decorate that tree. There are always tears and prayers for that family
wherever they might be. Our "angel tree", decorated in gold and a variety
of angels, keeps us focused... not on the gifts and the trinkets of Christmas,
but on the needs of a world bruised, broken, rejected and hurting. The greatest
gift we have to give to them is HOPE and that hope is found in JESUS CHRIST!"
Jimmie Ruth Matthews, Lakeland, FL
"It was December 1957. The Christmas tree was up, the house was decorated,
and I was as excited as any typical four year old would be. The Saturday
afternoon before Christmas my Dad made his usual trip downtown to have coffee,
visit with friends, and pick up any last minute things we might need. Only
this time he didn't come home. He began to feel ill, a friend took him to
the hospital and then phoned Mom to come quickly. Dad died of a stroke that
night. His funeral was December 24th. I don't have a lot of memories of that
Christmas, just that everything was very confusing and in turmoil.
"Ours is not the only family that has experienced tragedy at Christmas, but
unfortunately for many as Christmastime comes around each year it continues
to be a time of sadness rather than joy. I am fortunate in that my Mother
did not let that happen in our family. Even though, as she confided to me
in later years, she wrote on Christmas cards the next few years with tears
running down her cheeks, she did not let our loss define Christmas for us.
As I have grown older and each year at Christmas think back to that Christmas
over 50 years ago, the loss has for me deepened the meaning of Christmas.
God became man and dwelt among us. Jesus Christ came as a baby and entered
into the brokenness of our world and of our earthly experience that He might
redeem it to give us "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning." Christmas
carols aren't often written about this aspect of the message the angels brought
to the shepherds. However, the chorus to the song God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
(recently recorded by Greater Vision) expresses it well. "O tidings of comfort
and joy, comfort and joy. O tidings of comfort and joy." Comfort in our pain
and loss, and joy because Christ has come that we might experience his healing
and redemption." Betty Stokoe, Stettler, AB, Canada
"The Christmas carol "O Holy Night" is so special to me because in 3 verses
of original poetry written by a wine seller in 1847, and later put to music,
the author captures the whole of the story of Christmas. The world was full
of sin and error, and longed for a savior to come and rescue them. When word
that a savior had been born, what a thrill of hope captured the nations of
the Earth. A new and glorious morning had begun, a new beginning, as shown
by the gleaming star of Bethlehem; a new era of hope and a future of possible
peace. Then, the story of the wisemen is told. A search for the savior had
ensued as the holy family stood by His cradle and a world awaited their arrival.
The Light of the world was indeed shining o'er the entire world, as three
kings found the Child lying in the lowly manger. The Lord knew our need before
He ever came. And what do we owe Him in return? We owe Him our devotion,
our love, and our service. The final verse sums it up this way: "Truly He
taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace."
He shall break all the chains that bind us, if only we believe in Him and
follow. Lift your voice in constant praise of Him, proclaiming Him to be
who He claimed He was and is and evermore shall be: Our King of Kings and
Lord of Lords! Praise be to His name! What more needs to be said? What more
needs to be sung? This song IS Christmas!" Jerry Tinkle
"Each Christmas over the last several years, our family has been asked to
plan and lead our Christmas Eve 11 PM service. It is a special part of our
year! As our children have grown and joined other churches, everyone joins
again for this service. Our oldest daughter, an elementary music teacher,
lines up the Christmas carols and soloists, our son runs the sound system,
our other two daughters help ready the candles for the end of the service,
and my husband hands out the bulletins. Although we now attend several different
churches, Christmas Eve is not complete without worshiping the wonderful
Savior together and wondering at His sacrifice as He left Heaven and humbled
Himself to come to Earth - to live as God's perfect Lamb and give Himself
to purchase our salvation. Just before the end of the service the tradition
has been for me to sing 'O Holy Night'. As the years have flown by, my voice
has changed, and it is now a leap of faith to believe that my voice will
be able to hit the notes without detracting from the beauty of the song.
However, God has answered the prayer. It has been a joy to sing, knowing
each year that it may be the last time I sing it, but that my voice is in
God's hands. For over 55 years (my first solo at church was at the age of
5), my prayer has been that God would reveal Himself to each person and hide
me. As long as God is willing to use me I will be available, always thanking
Him for the joy He gives, especially on Christmas Eve, singing 'O Holy Night'."
Sylvia Bray, Illinois