As children rifle through piles of gifts, and wrapping paper flies through the air, we should enjoy Christmas Day and time spent with family. It's also appropriate to remember the meaning of Christmas and to think how so many in this world have taken different paths than the one encouraged by Jesus Christ.
It was less than a week ago when a 24-year-old man drove a tractor trailer cab into a crowd of people at a German Christmas market, killing 12 and wounding 48. The suspect was killed in a shootout with police on Friday.
Closer to home in our very own community, a woman is charged with stabbing another woman three times after the two exchanged texts.
This is not the message of love and forgiveness conveyed in the life of Jesus. His birth fulfilled a prophecy from God to bless the world. We need only to look to the Bible and the book of Luke to tell us the story of Christ's birth and the overwhelming love Jesus showed throughout his life which surpasses all human limits.
One of the most fundamental themes conveyed in Luke, and exemplified in the life of Christ, is Jesus was sent to earth by God to offer salvation. A model of perfection, he was sent to save the rich and the poor, the adults and children.
If we look to the Bible, we find out early in Luke that God sent the angel Gabriel to the city of Nazareth to visit a virgin named Mary. In Luke 1:30-31 we are told Mary will carry the son of God.
It was in the fabled town of Bethlehem where Mary bore the son of God. With this birth, God became human flesh. His perfection is revealed in the human form. The birth of Jesus, an extension of God's glory, was real, even though His conception was divine rather than physical.
As Luke tells us, Mary wrapped her baby in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for the family at the inn. That's when the angel of the Lord came upon them in Luke 2:10-11 and said, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born a son this day which is Christ the Lord."
While human in that he was flesh and blood, Jesus possessed divine truth. In His flesh, the mind of God was expressed.
The fact there was no room for Him at the inn is symbolic of the life of Jesus. Although Christ did have faithful followers, there was no room for Him in the hearts of many people who viewed Jesus as an enemy.
Jesus would not waiver in conveying his message, no matter his adversaries. Through his life and actions, he was determined to spread God's glory.
He showed the power to heal a crippled man bedridden with palsy. Jesus healed by saying, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." With those words, the man rose and walked away, the first of many to be healed by Christ.
With that divine power, however, came animosity from others who refused to believe Christ was the almighty son of God.
Jesus was betrayed by the likes of Judas and Peter, was arrested, and was crucified on the cruel cross at Calvary. Even then, faced with a horrifying death upon the cross, Jesus still offered his forgiveness. He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
As we celebrate the incarnation of our Lord Sunday on a day we call Christmas, we will make room under the tree for many material gifts. May we also make room for the spiritual blessing of Jesus in our minds and in our hearts.