Please allow me, in my own words, to tell a Christmas story told by Stephen Shadeeg, an Arizona businessman, the father of four children.
Christmas morning, 4:30 a.m. His son David, 7 at the time, bursts into Stephen’s bedroom.
“Daddy! Mother! Come quick! I saw it!” said David. His eyes were lit up and sparkling. He couldn’t quit talking. “Come quick! Come quick!”
Stephen’s immediate response was to feel cheated. When they opened Christmas gifts at their house, it was very much a shared activity. Stephen and his wife wanted to be right there to see every expression on every face. So there was a very clear family rule: None of the children could go down to see gifts under the tree until the rest of the family was awake. Then they could all go together.
And this was a special Christmas! David had been wanting a bike for two years. This was the day he got it. Stephen realized, however, he couldn’t scold his kid for breaking the rule. After all, it was Christmas. Maybe the rule could be reinforced later. But not this day.
So Stephen and his wife wiped the sleep from their eyes. They woke all the other kids. David grabbed a hand and led them all along the hall and down the stairs.
They moved through the darkened living room toward a window on the eastern side of the house. David completely missed seeing the bike under the tree. He pointed his little finger to the eastern sky and said, “Look! The Star of Bethlehem! I’ve seen the star!” And they all basked in its light.
It’s a wonderful story and a gentle reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. It is about the gifts. But not the kind that can be purchased with a credit card.
The greatest gift of all was Jesus Christ, God himself, come to earth because he loved us. Nothing else compares.
But he also brought other gifts. He brought hope and peace. One of my younger brothers died just a few weeks ago. I fully intend this Christmas, as best as I am able, to open my arms to fully unwrap and hold on to hope and peace.
He brought forgiveness. He brought healing. He brought purpose. He brought a new way to live. He brought a new way to see. He brought a new joy that cannot be stolen. He brought a new definition of “neighbor” and a new way to relate to others. And he brought many other gifts that I am still trying to unwrap.
So do look down under the tree this Christmas. But above all else, look up to the heavens and give thanks.
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Kenai Fellowship offers Sunday Bible classes for all ages 10 a.m. Worship 11:15 a.m. Wednesday meal 6:15 p.m. Worship and classes at 7 p.m. Christmas Eve service Tuesday 7 p.m. No Wednesday service Christmas Day. 283-7682.
For the Peninsula Clarion