In honor of the Advent season, I would like to share with you some messages I’ve written for former Christmas letters. I hope they will help you focus on the true meaning of this special season and help you take hold of the most precious gift of all: Salvation through Jesus Christ.
I can’t remember who sent the first Christmas letter we ever received, but it was fun and newsy and seemed like a good idea. What a great way to save time and money, while sending something more personal than a store-bought card!
The first time we sent a family newsletter in lieu of generic greeting cards was in 1993. I banged out the message on our electric typewriter—using lots of White-Out, since I’ve never been much of a typist. I taped some black-and-white clip art to the page, and then made copies to send out. I still had to hand write addresses on the envelopes, but finished in record time. The next year, our type-written note featured original artwork by both the boys and me.
In 1995, we found a friend to type our holiday digest on their computer, so we could get more news on one page with resizable font. I included an original short-story, which added the new tradition of an evangelistic message with our newsletter. In 1996-97, we didn’t yet own a computer, but had access to those at the library. I was able to type our Christmas letters with word-processing programs that let me cut-and-paste text—which meant no more White-Out! In 1998 a dear friend gave us his old computer, so I typed our newsletters at home. That year, the boys wrote a delightful story, entitled, “If Christmas Happened Today,” in which they imagined Jesus’ birth in a contemporary roadside motel.
As we grew more familiar with our PC, the newsletters got more sophisticated, with the addition of computer-generated graphics. In 2000, we designed our own Christmas card, with a cover created in Microsoft’s Paintbrush program. I learned about MS Publisher and made even better newsletters. Through the years, we included original poetry and song lyrics, short stories, a play, an excerpt from my first novel and other creative writing, photos and images. Hopefully, those who received them have been blessed by our efforts.
We also received our share of newsletters. Some were well-written and entertaining, as well as informative. Others were not so polished, but appreciated, nonetheless.
This holiday tradition reminds me of the first Christmas letter mankind ever received. For centuries, God had been sending love notes to His people—beginning with the covenant etched in stone from Mt. Sinai. Through prophets, priests and kings, He sent messages in various forms—including songs, poems, parables, sermons and personal testimonies. Yet few people seemed interested in what the Lord had to say.
Finally God decided to send a living message—the Word of God in human form—to communicate His heart. As John 1:14 says, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (NKJV). All the things God had tried to say in the Old Testament was fleshed out, lived and explained by Jesus. He was the ideal expression of God’s grace and love. He perfectly fulfilled the Law (See Matthew 5:17 & Hebrews 4:15). Jesus explained God’s plan to rescue fallen man, and then went to the cross to fulfill that mission. As further expression of the power of God’s Word, Jesus not only raised others from the dead (Mark 5:35-43, Luke 7:11-15 & 8:49-55, John 11:1-46), but He Himself became alive again after three days in the tomb and was seen by many witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3-7). What a newsflash that was!
When Jesus returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit came to live inside of those who believe. Now we carry the message of God’s love in our hearts, to be shared as the Spirit communicates His truth through us (John 16:7-15). The Apostle Paul wrote that Christians are “a letter from Christ,…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God…on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:3, NIV). We are like living brochures, portraying the love of God for all to see, so that they, too, will want to be part of the family of faith.
Unfortunately, not all of us represent Christ well. We’ve seen people who claim to belong to Jesus not living as He would. Especially at the university bookstore where I work, I find many young people have rejected the Lord because of negative words and conduct of Christians they know. These are not the kind of messages we want to send others—any more than Christmas letters that are full of typos and embarrassing faux pas.
So those of you who share our love of Jesus, we encourage to examine your life and see what kind of message you are sending others. Are you saying things that are hurtful, coarse or harsh? Are you watching things and going places you shouldn’t? Participating in activities that would make Jesus blush? Then probably you need to make some changes, so the message your life transmits is consistent with the Christmas letter God first sent.
To those who do not know Jesus, our apologies for the negative epistles you have received through the years. While God is a holy and righteous judge, He is also a merciful and loving Father. Jesus was presented as a gift to mankind—not only to satisfy the justice of God by bearing our sins on the cross—but He also came as an ambassador of love to reconcile us to the Lord. Believers have been given that same message to carry to the world (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). If you’ve heard only condemnation, rather than acceptance, that was not the message God intended you to receive. Please forgive us and don’t hold it against Him. Instead, take another look at the Gospels, Romans and 1 John to see what you’ve been missing.
This Christmas, we pray that the letters you receive from the Lord and His people will endear you even more to the Author of all life and love. May His Spirit fill your heart with joy and peace, as you focus on the message of the Babe in the manger, the Man on the cross. May you glory in the Son of God, who walked out of the tomb and into God’s throne room, to bring us into fellowship with the King of all kings!
© 2011, Deborah Schaulis