Let me share with you why Christmas means so much to me. It was on one Christmas Eve, more than 30 years ago when I received the gift that the first Christmas was all about. On December 24, 1975 I accepted Jesus in my heart through a childlike prayer of faith, and He became Saviour of my soul and Lord of my life.
On that wonderful evening, my eldest sister (a college freshman at that time), had a rare one-on-one talk with me in the bedroom that we shared as siblings. She was holding a little yellow booklet in her hand. With enthusiasm and unusual kindness uncharacteristic of my “Big” sister, she walked me through the booklet, page after page, and gently explained to me selected Bible verses that spoke of how Jesus loves me and wants to have a personal relationship with me.
I wasn’t sure I understood every detail of that talk. But one thing clear in my mind was that, if there was a throne in my heart, Jesus wasn’t the one sitting there! I was a teen-ager full of myself and took pride in my academic medals and many friends. I felt favoured by my parents because aside from getting high grades in school, I played piano pretty well and would render music (even though grudgingly at times) when they had guests at home, and this made them proud. I was confident about my own “goodness”.
As a devout Roman Catholic, I thought I knew enough about Jesus – in fact I was president of the club called Friends of Jesus. I had received numerous “Best in Religion” medals and went through the motions required by the traditions in the Catholic school where I studied. But, that religion had never been personal to me; it didn’t create a heart’s desire to know Christ in an intimate way.
Sad to say, I didn’t know the Jesus of the Bible. I had never thought of Christ as a real person who came to the world as a baby on the first Christmas, and grew up and lived among needy people. I had not understood His teachings and the meaning of His miracles. I had not grasped the incredible truth that He loved all of humankind –and yes, He loved me — so much that He gave up His heavenly glory and embrace the suffering and death destined for Him on the Cross of Calvary. I had never been confronted about my personal pride and self-centeredness. I had never seen myself as a sinner in need of a Saviour . . . until that one Christmas Eve!
On that night, I listened to words from the Bible that opened my eyes and led my heart to Jesus. I learned that it was possible to have a living, day-to-day relationship with Him. By God’s grace, my heart understood the awesome truth that He loves me and wants me to experience life in an extraordinary way on this side of heaven — and in eternity with Him forever. I began the exciting discovery of the real meaning of Christmas, sans the worldly trappings and travesties . . . that it’s all about Jesus, the Son of God who came to be with us – our Immanuel (John 1:14).
I began my personal relationship with Jesus my Saviour and Lord on that extraordinary eve of Christmas 1975. Jesus offered me His unconditional love and I accepted with gratitude and awe. He kindled in my heart a flame that has kept burning, fanned by His promises in the Bible and encouragement from a faithful community of believers. He ushered me into a new life of adventure in faith, grace, hope, love, joy, and great expectation! These words are no longer abstractions for me. They have become real in my daily walk with the One who gave me the gift of Himself on that beautiful Christmas.
This Christmas, like the Christmas of 1975 and the meaningful Christmases in subsequent years, I sing again my favourite Christmas carol and proclaim, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” Joy to my heart, my Jesus reigns!
“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.” Isaiah 9:6