The assignment spoke to Hannah in a way none had before. She was to write one page describing the meaning of Christmas. She pondered the thought during chapel and throughout the day as she attended classes. Upon arriving home, she made a cup of hot cocoa and stirred in her marshmallows using a peppermint candy cane. Looking out over the snow covered hills she reflected again on the assignment. Taking her cocoa over to the fireplace, Hannah settled down next to the fire. She turned her rocking chair away from the fire and faced the Christmas tree on the other side of the room. The smell of the pine still permeated the air. The decorations were beautiful. Ribbons and ornaments were spaced carefully. White lights sparkled giving the room an ethereal glow. There were wrapped gifts stacked high on one side of the tree.
This felt like Christmas. There was snow, cocoa, candy canes, a tree, and presents. But this wasn’t the meaning of Christmas. She knew that many of her friends would write about family and friends and how time together and giving to each other represented the real meaning of Christmas, but she knew Christmas was much more than that.
If anything symbolized the meaning of Christmas for her, it was the candy cane designed for that purpose. It showed the stripes by which we are healed, the blood of the sacrificial Lamb which was shed for mankind. The white indicated the pureness of the virgin birth and the sinless nature of Christ. The firm texture was a reminder that He is our solid Rock and His promises stand firm. The shepherd staff shape was to be a reminder of the Shepherd who came in the flesh to save his flock. The shape was also a J for Jesus, the name above all names and the only one by which we must be saved.
An idea began to form. She called her father and asked him to bring her a couple of boxes of candy canes. Then she sat down to write. Her opening paragraph spoke of why the candy cane had been made, and how it had been secularized losing its meaning over time. Then she got personal and shared what Christmas meant to her.
The next day Hannah was the last to be called on to read her paper to the class. She passed out the candy canes before taking her place by the black board and reading what she had written.
Christmas isn’t about presents, trees, Santa, snow, caroling, or parties. T’s not even about candy canes, but when you see the candy cane, I hope you will remember what it stands for and consider the great sacrifice that was made for you. Christmas allows us to enjoy time with family and friends, but the greatest gift we can give them is to share the gospel. The Lord Jesus saved our wretched souls, and as this simple piece of candy reminds us, it was a sacrifice that came at a high cost. A free gift for us, but at the cost of His blood. He gave up His heavenly home for a time to be born of a woman and live among men. He knew He would be rejected by His own people, but He came anyway. He knew He would be crucified but He came anyway. He shed His blood that we might have life. The word ‘we’ flows easily, but when I personalize and internalize His sacrifice, I realize that He shed His blood for me. That is much harder to accept. If it had just been for me, would He have still remained on that cross? When I realize what He did for me, it humbles me. I realize how undeserving I am and how great He is, and wonder why He would willingly give up so much for me.
When we keep the knowledge of His great love to ourselves and instead give worldly gifts of trinkets that will perish with time, we are being selfish. There is nothing wrong with giving presents, but we must not exclude Christ from Christmas. We are keeping Christ to ourselves when His love is big enough to encompass us all. He is not willing that any should perish. Christmas is about remembering all that He gave up to give us the gift of salvation, and remembering that we were created to bring Him pleasure. Share the gift of Jesus Christ with your loved ones and bring a smile to God’s face as He sees His love shine through you.
Hannah had tears in her eyes as she made her way back to her seat. The classroom was silent. She could only hope that her words and God’s message had touched the hearts of her classmates the way it had touched her own heart.