My 57th Christmas
STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete (The Freeman) - November 20, 2018 - 12:00am

Or so, I think. I can’t remember most of them, though most would have probably been celebrated the same way most of us do today. Almost all would have been with my family. Many things remained the same all throughout the half-century, trimmings and songs, but many things changed, too – we no longer have the bamboo cannons we used to play with when we were young, and firecrackers became more powerful and deadly. Like everybody, we chorused about “giving love on Christmas day” but feasted more on lechon, the gift-giving (exchanging, actually), the year-end bonuses, almost to gluttony.

There were times in the early years I didn’t want to celebrate at all, especially in December, because I knew Jesus’ birth did not happen in December, but more like somewhere in October, or thereabouts. And the snowy white Christmas was just marketing to drive up sales. Imagine chestnuts roasting on an open fire, or that snowman called Frosty. But the whole world placed the holiday in December, so we might as well resign to it.

Did I even celebrate Christmas in its truest sense? That is to dwell on the incarnation of the Son of God crucified on the cross, his blood a propitiation for our sins, redeeming us its wages which is death, and resulting in our justification? Not in many of those years, though now, I certainly hoped I had. I had always written that Christmas and Lent are one and the same, by the grace and mercy of God, bringing salvation to man and giving us, through faith, eternal life. But knowing and writing about it does not make it more real to me than living it, not only during Christmas season but beyond, for the rest of my life.

In the end, Christmas brings us to the real truth. Around 2,000 years ago, a baby was born. Nothing special about a baby being born, there are around 250 babies born every minute now, but this baby is different. His birth was foretold 700 years before the time, but after only 33 years he suffered and died, crucified to a tree. Jesus, who was with God and himself God from the very beginning before the world was created, became man, God’s only begotten son who God gave, “that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). All because God loved us.

And that’s all there is to it, the greatest message ever told. Whatever age you are and how many Christmases you’ve had, this next one has the same message. We are all given the chance. And these things have been written “to us who believe in the Son of God, so that we may know that we have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) Do you already know that you have eternal life? The scriptures say you may know. Maybe, that could be the greatest Christmas gift you can ever have. We have as many Christmases as we have years of our lives. This next one might be one when you are thankful to God for eternity.

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