I column as I see 'em

Well, ready or not Christmas is just a few hours away and chances are you’re not altogether ready for it. Oh, you’ve already fought the crowds and successfully secured those special gifts for even the hardest to please on your list and tucked away in the fridge is all food from the grocery list, but you’re still scratching your head in disbelief that it’s already here. Wasn’t it just a couple of months ago when you took down the lights from the gutters and stashed away the metal deer in its summer residence? But, believe it or not, in a few days a countless throng of people all over the world will lock the doors of their businesses, gather with their parents, kids and grandkids, watch the youngsters enjoy their newly acquired treasures from under the ornate tree, feast at a table laden with delicacies while we listen to traditional holiday music, and once again enjoy the festive and joyous holiday we call Christmas.And for now our living rooms and lawns are aglow with the glittering decorations and colorful flashing lights that fill our hearts with the joy of the season. It is indeed a very special time of the year and that’s the way it is supposed to be.Sadly, that isn’t the way it will be for thousands of people who will not be privileged to experience any of those joyous and heartwarming scenes because they have no home, no family and no friends. Their lives are literally daily battles for survival. My heart is aching for the underprivileged men and women of our world and I will be praying for them as they face these next few days with hunger, loneliness, and even hopeless despair, and I would encourage you to join me in that worthwhile endeavor. I wish there was some way I could talk with every one of them because I would like very much to give them something incredible. Oh, it would definitely be one of the greatest joys of my life to provide every destitute person on our planet all the material things that would help to satisfy their needs. How I would love to have the ability to do something like that. But, I’m not talking about giving them money, a car, new clothes or even a hot meal. Those tangible gifts would certainly alter their circumstances and make their day, their season, and even their future, brighter and more enjoyable. I don’t have the resources to do any of those things and even if I did they would only be things and things don’t last forever.I wish for all people, rich and poor, something everlasting and priceless to be the gift they receive this Christmas. The gift I wish for all mankind to have wasn’t wrapped in shiny paper and laid under a brightly lit tree, but in swaddling clothes laid in a feed trough in a barn.Faith Hill, the famous country singer, popularized a song a few years ago entitled “A Baby Changes Everything” and it continues to be a perennial Christmas favorite. It is, of course, a musical presentation of the unveiling of the greatest love gift of all time, the birth of a baby in Bethlehem whose arrival absolutely changed everything. The world has never been the same since His birthday and every man, woman and child can be transformed by the miraculous love gift born that night in a barn, a child called Jesus. That amazing story is the gift I would love to give every person around the world, whether they are in a palace or a pit. I know some might judge me as a pusher of religious propaganda, but since the person with an experience is never at the mercy of the one with only an argument I cannot be intimidated by those critics. I know how genuine the transforming power of that story is when a heart chooses to embrace its truth, for I have done that very thing and I know Him to be real and incomparable. Unquestionably the gifts of care, shelter, food and clothing are practical and needed demonstrations of the love story I am talking about and when we have the ability and resources to provide those things we absolutely should. But the story is free and the gift of joy and peace that is embodied within its revelation is free. What this means is that anyone can share it and anyone can receive it. That’s the awesome nature of this inimitable gift. Let’s open our hearts and our wallets this Christmas and show love and compassion for the less fortunate. Let’s share our blessings with those who have nothing. And above all, let’s share the gift that keeps on giving every minute of every day of our lives. It’s perfectly described in your Bible in these words: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). That, my friend, is the true meaning of Christmas. Eddy Prince is the senior pastor at Grace Fellowship Church. He can be reached by email at pastorprince@msn.com.