christmas

Serving with Love (Juhae Sohn)

JuhaeSohn.jpg

This past Saturday, my family and I were able to visit the elderly at the Town and Country Manor. It is a nursing home located in Santa Ana.  My husband and I felt strongly that it was important for us to show our children that Christmas is not just about getting presents and taking a break from school, but that it is a time where we can reflect on the blessings that we have been given all year and we can try to share some of those blessings with those less fortunate.

nursinghome1.jpg

We were not sure what to expect upon arrival, but we quickly found ourselves in a room full of wheelchairs and smiles.  We had a time of singing carols together with the elderly living there, and then our church's kids musical cast shared a couple of special songs. This was followed by some of the ladies from the Korean congregation who played auto-harps for the audience.  We were able to share a small gift from our church to all those in attendance, and even walked around passing out the gifts to those who were unable to attend in person.  It was very touching to see the joy in the faces of the people we met, and there were definitely moments that we will remember, such as when one of the elderly ladies hugged and kissed our oldest son. 

nursinghome2.jpg

Our hope and prayer is that our short visit brought some Christmas cheer to the people we met, and that our sons will remember that this season is more about looking outside of ourselves rather than looking forward to what they will receive. We have already received the biggest gift in our lives, Jesus Christ, and in return, I believe sharing the joy and love of God should be our purpose, especially celebrating the birthday of the Son of God.

The Gift of Christ (Eliot Moon)

Eliot Moon.jpg

The bright, burning flame, the colorful tree, stuffed stockings, and gifts under the tree – these are some of the things I remember about Christmas growing up. Yet the most significant tradition I remember in my household was attending the annual Christmas worship service at church. The privilege of partaking in a time of remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ with my mother, father, and older sister was, without a doubt, an impactful moment for me. I had grown up in the church my whole life, and being taught of Christ’s virgin birth on Earth showed me the humility of our Lord. I believe seeing the selfless role He took as fully God, yet also fully man, made way for me to truly accept Christ as my personal savior. Hebrews 2:17 tells us this:

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
— Hebrews 2:17

On a personal level, Christmas today means continuing the celebration of Jesus’ birth with my family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ. Christmas is not about expecting to receive a certain number of gifts from those around me. Christmas is not about the reindeer, the songs, Santa Claus, and the food. Christmas is about recognizing the greatest gift was already given to us, and that gift is Christ and Christ alone. Christmas also gives me a heart of gratitude for the great qualities that came with Jesus: salvation, redemption, justification, and propitiation, just to name a few. As the sign of Jesus was a promise for believers to enter into the new covenant, I now have the opportunity to respond in faith and offer my life up to Him.

2017 has been one of the most difficult years for me. Disappointment, constant failure, and fear of the future left me feeling anxious and doubtful. Yet through this winter season, God has constantly revealed to me that though I may experience times of struggle and difficulty, He is always there. I do not have to hope in the temporary things of the world. I can place my full trust in Him. He is the author of my future, and my solid foundation amidst rough waters. I pray that we would all be mindful of the fact that it is all about Christ. May we remember the significance of His birth, which is a sign for new life. May we look forward for the year 2018, and the many blessings Christ has in store for us.

Christmas Time (Esther Baik)

estherbaikfamily.jpg

Christmas is my favorite time of the year--the smell of winter spices makes me feel very warm inside. I have so many memories of Christmas. But my favorite one is when I was a little girl about four or five years old. On Christmas eve, my mom and I would go to church where I would participate in a Christmas performance. That year, I remembered wearing a white gown and wearing a halo on my head. We were dressed up as angels and we sang “Silent Night” on the stage. I remember checking to see where my mom was sitting, making sure she was watching me perform. After the performance and the service, my mom and I would walk home in the snow. It was so cold that you could see icicles on some apartment buildings. When we got home, I washed up, got dressed in my pajamas and that’s when the fun began. I would get to stay up late to watch “Frosty the Snowman” that my mom had recorded earlier and eat my favorite snacks.

Looking back now, I realized how blessed I was to grow up in a Christian home and to be exposed to the gospel at an early age. My mom’s love for me was great but I know now that it was just a mere reflection of how much our Heavenly Father loves us. While I loved Christmas as a youth, as I grew older and more mature in my faith, the meaning of Christmas changed for the better. The meaning continues to become deeper and more significant with the realization that our savior was born that day, in a not-so-silent night but in a cold, dark, and noisy manger.  A savior was born who would come to live the perfect life and die the perfect death, sacrificing himself for our sins so that those who believe in Him would have all our sins forgiven and have Him for eternity. Oh, what great news that is!

I will always cherish the memories of my childhood years during Christmas but it now pales in comparison to the deeper joy that is only found in a relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. The childhood memories were just a sign of the things to come in my adult years as I have grown in my relationship with Christ. But in turn God’s present grace is also a sign, a sign of things to come in heaven in our eternal relationship with Him.

I still enjoy staying up late in my pajamas and eating my favorite snacks but now watching Korean videos instead of Frosty the Snowman. And I have the great privilege now of enjoying watching my own four-year-old son perform during Christmas at church as he jumps for joy during this time of year. I only hope that he would soon also experience the true and deeper joy that can only be found in our Lord, Jesus Christ.