There are two little 4-year old girls at our church that just love being together. They are the best of friends. I have had the blessing of spending time with them in the nursery until this past year when they moved up to an actual class. But I still see them as they enter church and recognize each other. What a joyful greeting they share. They hug, giggle, hold hands, share treats and simply enjoy being together. Last Sunday was one of those days when I witnessed their joyful greeting. It is contagious! You just can’t help smiling or laughing at their exuberance as they get together and just enjoy being alive and having a friend. Do you have a friend like that? You just simply love spending time together, no matter what you are doing or even if you are not doing anything at all? I do. We may not skip around, giggle and hold hands but we still share a joyful greeting. It’s a special thing – friendship.
These little girls reminded me of another joyful greeting. The Bible tells us of a joyful greeting with Mary (Jesus’ mother) and Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mother, Mary’s relative). This joyful greeting is recorded in Luke 1:39-45 “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” What a joyful greeting they shared!
There will be many joyful greetings soon as we gather with family and friends for Christmas. There will no doubt be memories shared (and re-shared), favorite traditions observed, great food devoured and maybe even presents unwrapped. It is by far my favorite holiday. I love the Christmas lights, decorations, cards and candles. I love spending time with family and friends. But, most of all, I love celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a gift was given to all of us! All we need to do is receive it (Him). That’s the thing – we must unwrap and receive the gift. Salvation is open to all who will receive. It’s not a one-time gift either – we walk out our salvation every day as we obey God and follow Him. With God, it’s not impossible. Only two things are critical to our salvation – Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love others. What a gift! The best gift ever! And, it’s given freely to all! What we must remember though this gift for us was at the cost of a life, a precious life – the only life that could redeem us from sin. Jesus Christ had to be born a baby and die on a cross as a sacrifice for us. That’s how much God loves us! (John 3:16). After Christmas had to come Easter. Both holidays are celebrated because of the love God has for us!
As we gather together this Christmas with joyful greetings, let’s remember that…
JESUS is the reason for the season!