When I was a child and had to memorize something, my mother would always be willing to give me some hints on how to remember it. If it was a phone number, she would look for relationships between the numbers and tell me something like, “Do you see this two and six here at the start? If you add them together, you’ll get the third number in the extension. Multiply them together and you’ll get the first two numbers of the four, and I guess you’ll just have to remember the last two numbers.” I always politely ignored her suggestions and just remembered the number.

That was what I did when I was a kid. Guess what I do now? I’ll not plague you with how I remember my license plate number, but it’s in much the same way as my mother once suggested. I had a hard time remembering which way to turn the key in the church building door; now I remember to turn it “in” towards the door jamb when I want to get in, and “out” when I want to lock things up. I guess we carry our parents with us throughout our lives!

In some ways, Christmas is God telling us how to remember God’s love for us.

God could have just stopped at telling us about his love, but words (even God’s Word) can be easily forgotten. So that we wouldn’t forget God’s love, God gave us Christmas. Christmas in itself isn’t the important part God’s telling (witness how our general society celebrates that day), but Christmas as a celebration of the birth of our Savior is what is most important.

How does Christmas remind us of God’s love? Our Triune God loved us so much that God the Son chose to became a fragile human being, totally dependent on his human parents for care. That’s love! Christmas shows God’s love in that God keeps the promises made to send our Savior, promises that stretch back to the first generation of humanity, promises seen in God’s promise to bless the whole world through a descendent of Abraham (which Jesus was). Faithfulness like that flows from love. Christmas shows God’s love best when we realize that it comes with a bundle of other gifts, too. Without being followed by the Cross and Resurrection, Christmas wouldn’t have that much significance for us. Jesus was born not just to be a baby but to be our savior. He came to give his life for us, not while we were his friends, but enemies of God. That’s love. Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (which means, “Town of Bread”) reminds us that Jesus is the Bread of Life, and that he gives us everything we need, including each other, including most of all, himself.

So, the lights of Christmas, the sounds of Christmas, the presents of Christmas, the message of Christmas, all point people to the Christ of Christmas, God’s love made flesh. I’ll pray for you (and please pray for me!) that we’ll all remember Jesus, even apart from all of the things of Christmas. Let’s take the opportunity that Christmas provides us with to help us remember God’s love, made human for us!

May you all have a Merry and Blessed Christmas.

About Rev. Michael Burkley

Michael has been a pastor for almost 34 years (unbelievably to him) and for over 12 of those years he has had the privilege of serving in Albany Presbytery as the pastor of the Rockwell Falls Presbyterian Church. He is currently serving as the 2020 Moderator of Albany Presbytery and is very glad to be serving God here with us.

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