Every year at my elementary school and home church, we would get a Christmas treat that consisted of an apple, orange, and candy cane! It was placed in a brown paper bag and distributed after the Christmas program. Without fail, every year, at school and church, the young people received the same thing for several years.
Ironically, we were delighted to receive the treat and accepted it with grateful hearts. Our people did not have a lot of money to devote to expensive gifts. However, they wanted to show their love for us in tangible ways – an apple, orange, and candy cane in a brown paper bag. There were a lot of young people in our school and in our church and all of us received the same thing – an apple, orange, and candy cane in a brown paper bag.
Today, I believe most young people would frown upon such a gift. Our young people are looking for and expecting a lot more than an apple, orange, and candy cane in a brown paper bag. Their gifts cost more and are radically different from previous generations.
Yet, they cannot miss the true meaning of Christmas. Although the gifts we received as children might have been simple, the message of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, God sending the Messiah, a Savior, was important and took precedence over anything we could have received.
That gift was emphasized in Christmas programs at school and church. It was the central theme in every Christmas play and choir concert. There was the annual trip to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Morehouse-Spelman Christmas Carol Concert. There were high school band and choir concerts. The city sponsored the annual Christmas parade and the streets downtown were lined with appreciative faces.
What was shared was simple, but meaningful. It pointed to the amazing story of a baby born in Bethlehem and the gift of salvation. As you begin to finalize your plans for Christmas, I hope you consider the true meaning of the gift given to us by God. Christmas is about Jesus coming to the world. Christmas is best summed up in the words of John, “For God so loved the world that He gave….” Amen.