It’s that time of year again when the incurably curious sift among the beautifully ornate boxes and bags littered under Christmas tree. The gifts come in all shapes and sizes and we always envy the one with the biggest gift. They say “Don’t be selfish, it’s the thought, not the size of the present!” I suppose that’s human nature to want the best and the biggest, this is what society teaches us. As a pastor, I probably shouldn’t say this, but, I concede. Sometimes the biggest gift is the best!
Let’s step back a few months, weeks before we even ventured into this holiday season…
I came through the front door of my mother’s home. I could feel the sadness hanging over the living room like a heavy, dark veil. My oldest of ten years sat quietly, very quietly on the sofa. This was most unusual for a boy that typically exuded energy. My youngest, age seven, was curled up in the over-sized easy chair, with great futility, trying to contain his tears. Their Oma came out of the kitchen, wiping her eyes, trying to be strong for the boys but cracking under the atmosphere. The image was in stark contrast to the joyous way the day began…
I was about to participate in an event that would fill my heart with joy! I had the pleasure of experiencing the same excitement a scant year ago with my eldest son. I helped him up the steps as I walked around to the side. He found his position and sat down on the step, he looked out at all the people, there to celebrate this event with us, then he turned to me with that ever familiar smile. In spite of occasional displays, shy he is not. The senior pastor held the microphone out as I asked, “Is there anything that you would like to share?” “I would like to thank everyone who came out today to see me get baptized. I love all of you and most importantly, I love God.” He smiled, my heart nearly burst from my chest with happiness. The congregation was clapping, my boy was obviously pleased with their response. “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” “Yes, I have.” “Then I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.” I leaned him back, completely submerging him for a moment, then back to his upright position. I bent down to his ear and whispered, “I love you.” He returned my words with a big kiss. “I love you too!”
Once he had decided that he was ready to be baptized, I had shared with him more specifically the purpose and symbolism of the event. Baptism is an outward expression of your decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, the lord of your life. Although baptism does not save you, it is a testimony to others that you will strive to live your life for God and die to sin. Your decision to accept Jesus is the key to eternity following our life here on earth. The submersion in water represents our burial or death to self. Coming up from the water is symbolic of resurrection into our new life with Christ. The entire ceremony is symbolic of what Jesus did for us on the cross that most important day several hundred years ago. Yes, even at the young age of seven, my boy understood the importance of baptism and the gift that was given to us, in spite of what we may have done. As a believer and follower of Christ we are assured a glorious eternity with Him. But, I digress.
After a wonderful celebratory lunch with family and friends, all were in high spirits. At that moment, it hadn’t occurred to me that God would use the events of the day to make a practical, hard-hitting point to all. We needed to make one additional stop. One of our dear friends, a neighbor to my mother, whom we have known for many, many years was going through a trial and we wanted to pay a visit. Her elderly husband was confined at home with hospice care and we thought he might like a visit from us and the “crazy kids”, they have loved our boys for as long as we have!
His wife welcomed the visit and was thrilled to see the boys, hugging us all as she took us to his room. It is always a bit shocking to see the frailty of life thrust in your face…
This life lesson will conclude in my NEXT POST, “I Still Like the Biggest and Best Gift (Part II)
May you all be blessed as you ENJOY this Christmas Season!
©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design
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