In my day to day life, when I talk about someone who is so excited he can hardly stand it, I often say, “He is as excited as a child on Christmas morning.” Is there anything more exciting to a child than Christmas morning? Is there anything more exciting to a child than the anticipation of opening one gift after another that was chosen especially for her? For a child, to look at a tree full of presents knowing there are special treasures with her name on it has got to be as good as it gets.
I can remember the Christmas morning experience as a child. My family would have a nice dinner on Christmas eve and then do a family activity. Before the evening was through each of us could pick one present to unwrap. We knew the “big” presents wouldn’t arrive until sometime while we were asleep. We would pick up gift after gift trying to find just the right one to end the day with. Together as a family we would each open our gift.
Then my sisters and brother and I would want to go to bed. You see, we were pretty smart back then. We knew the earlier we went to bed, the earlier we would wake up in the morning. And it would be Christmas morning, our favorite morning of the year! We looked forward to it so much.
We would lay in bed wondering what would be under the tree for us when we woke up, “What if I get a new bike? Will it be wrapped or just have a red ribbon on it? I think mom bought that game I wanted. I hope I made it clear to her how important it is to me!” With visions of what may be there in the morning and with our hearts racing, we would finally drift off to sleep.
Before going to bed, my parents would set a time we could not “get up” before. What a cruel thing to do to an anxious child! We knew that whatever time we woke up, we would be unable to go back to sleep again. We would wake up early and watch the clock, anxiously waiting to wake up mom and dad. Should we wait until 7? If we woke them up early would they be angry? The time between waking up and mom and dad getting out of bed seemed like forever back then.
Finally, mom and dad would stir and we would explode with excitement. We could run downstairs and see what was left the night before. The next hour of our life we would truly be as excited as a child on Christmas morning.
But before opening our gifts, my father would always read the story of a child whose birth was the greatest gift this world has ever received. He would read about an event that would forever change our world and our lives. He read about people who lived 2000 years ago and who, on that predestined night, were beside themselves with anticipation. These people experienced the excitement of the birth of a special child. It was the first Christmas.
The first Christmas did not involve Christmas trees, shopping sales, or wrapping paper. There were no lights on homes or mistletoe. No eggnog or Santa Claus. The first Christmas was different in many ways.
The first Christmas was also the same in many ways. It involved a child. It involved immeasurable excitement. It involved a gathering of people in honor of the event. It involved great anticipation of a wonderful gift.
In the Bible in the second chapter of Luke we are told beginning at verse 4, “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
The scripture continues telling us about shepherds in the fields who were visited by an angel. Beginning at verse 10, “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’”
Can you imagine the anticipation and excitement the shepherds were experiencing? On an evening that began as any other, they were visited by angels and told to go to find the Christ child. For a shepherd to leave his sheep is unthinkable. But their job responsibilities were instantly insignificant when placed side by side with the birth of our Savior.
Maybe the saying should be, “As excited as a shepherd on Christmas morning!” The shepherds didn’t run down stairs, but ran down from their fields. They didn’t run to find gifts but to find the gift. They didn’t have to wait on parents to experience the joy and excitement of Christmas morning. They were beside themselves in excitement as they went in search of the child in the manger.
The gifts we open this Christmas pale in contrast to the gift mankind received on that first Christmas morning. We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
My challenge to you today is to enjoy this holiday season. Share some special time with family. Continue with your traditions. Make memories. But in all you do remember our excitement should be over the birth of Jesus, God’s best gift to all of us. As adults we should continue to be as excited as a child on Christmas morning, not because of gifts under a tree, but because of the greatest gift God gave us on that first Christmas.
Just a thought...
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