The Pastor’s Piece – December 8, 2020
Fellowship of Christian Farmers
By Kevin Cernek
December 6, 2020
Christmas is weird. What other time of the year do you sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks?
Ten things Jesus never said:
1. You’ve gone too far to be saved.
2. I’m so disappointed in you.
3. This wouldn’t be happening if you were a better Christian.
4. There are some people you don’t need to love.
5. Everyone should believe and act the way you do.
6. It’s all up to you.
7. There are some people you don’t have to forgive.
8. You’ve missed My will for your life.
9. I’ve given up on you.
10. This is a cross you must bear alone.
The Christmas season is upon us. I know of no one, who does not enjoy Christmas. It’s not just for children, it’s for everyone.
When I was a kid, my parents would go all out to buy us kids all kinds of cool Christmas presents. We mostly received farm toys and games and things like walkie-talkies, transistor radios, match box toys, and Hot Wheel cars and racing sets. They left the clothes buying up to my grandparents. My grandparents didn’t have the energy or the desire to hit the stores like Mom and Dad did, so they gave my folks cash to buy us all bib-overalls for Christmas. My uncle, who was never married, did much the same. He would give my parents money so they could buy us a new pair of leather work shoes – complete with thick, leather shoe laces.
Every Christmas morning from as far back as my memory will take me, I remember the excitement of unwrapping those new overalls and work shoes and trying them on. Everyone knew what was in those packages, but it was exciting just the same. In fact, those gifts stick out in my mind as much as all the other gifts I received as a child. Maybe that’s because every morning when I jumped out of bed and put my work clothes on to go out to the barn, I thought of Grandma and Grandpa and my Uncle Dannie for their generous gifts and lovingkindness.
Like most dairy farmer kids, because of all the excitement on Christmas morning, we’d roll out of bed way earlier than usual. We’d get the chores done and be back in the house anxiously waiting around the Christmas tree while Dad finished tying up all the loose ends in the barn. Then we’d open our presents before breakfast and before the sun came up.
One year, every morning after breakfast and before we got on the bus, while Dad was still in the barn, Mom had us memorize the Christmas story from Luke, chapter two. Then on Christmas morning after the gifts were opened, we recited it to Dad. To this day, I can still recite much of it from memory.
After sorting and stacking our opened Christmas presents, we’d make our way to the kitchen where we all had an orange sitting on our plate at the breakfast table. When Dad was a kid, he said he always got an orange in his Christmas stocking. That was the only orange he had all year. They just weren’t available nor did they have the means to have them year around like we do now. That was Dad’s tradition. The orange would hold us over until Mom had time to make a real breakfast. But who cared about eating? We had toys.
We did get to open one present on Christmas Eve though. The only catch was we had to give something we already owned or made ourselves. It could not be a store bought gift and it had to be wrapped in a brown paper bag or an old newspaper. That way we could recognize them under the tree as “fake gifts.” So we’d dig around in our junk drawers and find old toys and other items we no longer wanted or were tired of playing with, wrap them up in a brown paper bag or newspaper and give them to each other. That was always fun too. Everything about Christmas was fun – and it still is today.
The times have changed quite a bit from the very first Christmas we read about in the Bible. But even so, in the middle of the confusion and uncertainty of the very first Christmas ever, two happy mothers-to-be, Mary and Elizabeth got together and celebrated the upcoming births of their soon to be famous children – Jesus and His cousin, John the Baptist. Even the babies joined in. Luke 1:44 tells us that when Mary came to the door of Elizabeth’s house announcing her arrival, Elizabeth exclaimed: “When the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” How great is that?
I can’t wait for Christmas.
I’m praying that you’ll be able to leap for joy this Christmas because of God’s Son!
(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor at Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin and Assistant to the Executive Director at Fellowship of Christian Farmers International, Lexington, IL).