Summary: Every year the world shuts down on the 25th of December, but why? If it is just about gifts and family would this happen? This 3 part series looks into the real meaning of Christmas.

“Christmas beyond the Wrapping Paper” part 1

God’s Gift of Hope

Brian A. Moon

I recently heard a story of self-made millionaire Eugene Land, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. "Stay in school," he admonished, "and I’ll help pay the college tuition for every one of you." At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. One student said, "I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling." Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.

Hope is an amazing thing. Hope can transform a life from meaninglessness into a life that is full of purpose and direction and it can even motivate 6th grade students! That is pretty amazing stuff!!! We are now into the month of December and all across this great country the malls are frantically decorating and setting out racks of sale items for that great time of year known as Christmas. Houses are being decorated with bright lights and empty lots are turning into evergreen forest of Christmas trees. The temperature is getting colder and the sounds, sights, and smells of Christmas are soon to be everywhere. For many of you this is your favorite time of year, you can’t wait until Christmas morning with family sitting around a tree and ripping open that brightly wrapped gift.

Unwrapping that gift… is that all this holiday is about? Is the shinny wrapping paper, and Santa Clause what the entire world gets ready for each December 25th? This week we begin a new series called “Christmas beyond the Wrapping Paper” which is going to look at Christmas time a little deeper. The true meaning of Christmas is about gifts, but it isn’t wrapped in paper with a bow, instead it is about God’s gifts to each of us. These gifts God gives us come straight from one source and one source alone, his Son Jesus.

The Bible says, “Though he was God… He laid aside His mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And He humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminals death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8 TLB

2,000 years ago in a little Middle Eastern town God sent the source of all Christmas gifts to come to earth in the form of a little baby named Jesus. This little baby would grow up to be a man, a man that lived a perfect life and then died a criminal’s death.

He died a criminals death because he traded all our shortcomings and sins for his perfect life. Jesus made us perfect in God’s eyes. He gave us HOPE. If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior. Jesus life and death gives us hope. Hope for our past, hope for our present, and hope for our future. Lets look at those in more detail, because of Jesus I have:

Hope for my past

If you are like me you can relate to this story. It was my senior year of high school and I was voted as the senior with most school spirit. This was a cool honor and something I made sure I lived up to… for better or for worse. It was at an away volleyball game that I made the slight error of listening to a girl who told me I should write some nice words for the opposing teams fans on my chest with her lipstick.

Me and a friend went to the bathroom and carefully wrote AHS on my chest and SU… well you know on his chest. We made our way out to the gym and displayed our artwork when the dean from our school grabbed us by the arm told us to see him first thing in the mourning, with our parents in his office. That night as I replayed the story to my parents I told them one little variation in the story, I said that my friends chest said stinks instead of the slightly more taboo version. The next day as always the truth came out and I had to face the fact that it was the first time I had lied to my dad. I could see the disappointment all over his face and I felt like garbage.

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