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The Weekly Word: Focus on the greatest gift of all

By the Rev. Matt Howlett, Pastor, First Baptist Church

“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’”

— Luke 2:10 

Recently, attempting to figure out a sermon illustration, I began to reflect on what I considered the very best, most exciting Christmas gift I ever received.

In the end, I was surprised that nothing really stood out.

The Weekly Word: Focus on the greatest gift of all
Pastor Matt Howlett, First Baptist Church

That is not to say I never received anything good. There were many toys, clothes, various surprises that brought me great joy in the moment, but it’s difficult to recall much specifically. Clothes were grown out of and eventually discarded. Toys have long since worn out or broken. A few went up for sale on eBay.

While I do not remember many of the things I have received, I do recall the one Christmas when my grandparents decided instead of getting us “stuff,” they booked hotel rooms for the whole family and we got to spend several days with cousins, aunts, uncles just having fun and enjoying time together.

I remember one year as an adult, a Christmas blizzard kept us from going to visit family and I ended up spending the holiday with just my wife and kids. I remember how excited the kids were when we realized there was enough snow to sled down our back porch.

This year has been filled with challenges and we now we face the holiday season with the challenge of deciding what we can do safely. Can we go visit our loved ones? Can we join together with our congregation in person or will we celebrate Christmas over video screens?

While this is a year filled with many challenges and uncertainties, it is the perfect year for us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was sent into the world to seek and save each and every one of us.

While we may not get to embrace all of our loved ones this year, while we may not get the gifts we think we want and need, we have the greatest gift of all available to us.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wants you to receive that free gift. He wants to embrace you in his loving arms. He wants you to have the peace that passes all understanding.

In a world filled with questions, challenges, and uncertainty this year, let us all turn away from the trappings, commercialization, and stuff we think we need and focus our attention totally on Jesus, bringing the greatest gift into the world so we all may truly live.