I love Christmas. When my children were small, Christmas Day was the highlight of my year. I still love the Christmas season but some of the excitement is gone now that my children have left home.
One of the things that made Christmas so special over the years was the fact that it was the one day when I was able to put aside all of the cares and pressures of being a pastor and I could be just a husband and father enjoying a special day with my family.
My goal every year was to let nothing interfere with that family time. For three hundred and sixty-four days a year people could interrupt my day but Christmas was reserved just for my family. They made enough sacrifices throughout the year as I allowed my schedule to fill up with other responsibilities. I wasn’t going to let it happen on Christmas Day.
During my time as pastor in a Toronto area church I lived just a few kilometers from Tyndale University College and Seminary. One of the nice results of being that close was that we always had students attending our church. That usually meant that we had a steady stream of students through our home for meals.
There was, however, the Christmas in which two unwanted students gave us a Christmas to remember.
Heather and Rob were a dating couple attending the Bible College. Come Christmas they had no place to go and had accepted the fact that they were going to spend Christmas Day alone in the residence. They were attending our church at that time and both my wife and I knew that we couldn’t ignore the fact that they would be alone on the most family-oriented day of the year.
We knew that we had to invite them to join us for our Christmas celebration but there was something deep within me that did not want to let go of the fact that Christmas was just for my family. After several days of soul searching I did what I knew I was going to do right from the beginning. We invited them to spend Christmas Eve night with us and to join us for Christmas Day.
They accepted our invitation and somewhat reluctantly I drove over to the college to pick them up.
To my surprise I didn’t have to give up the family aspect of my Christmas. They entered into everything that we did and for that one day became a part of our family. They spent time with our children and helped to make the day extra special for our kids.
They pitched in and helped with the work involved.
They were an absolute delight to have around and they made that particular Christmas a treat for all of us.
As we look back over the Christmases past, that is the year that Rob & Heather came and made our family time special. I don’t know if we touched their lives at all that year but they certainly touched ours.
I’m not sure what your Christmas will hold this year but it is my prayer for each of you that ten years from now you will look back and remember the Christmas of 2015 as one that was special for you.
May you be gripped with the wonder that the baby whose birth we celebrate is alive and real in the 21st century and even more important alive and real in your life.
May God bless you in this Christmas season and in the year that lies ahead.