“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.”  Luke 2:1-3

Every Christmas Eve I remember my Paw-Paw. He was my grandfather on my mother's side and he loved this day. Paw-Paw was the driver behind the Christmas Eve traditions for our family. He was a farmer and there were years when the business struggled to make ends meet. Regardless of the fiscal performance, on this evening, he made sure we had shrimp to boil, oysters to fry, fireworks to shoot, and presents to open – even if those presents were just the traditional Christmas Eve pajamas. It was our tradition and he loved it! He made it all about family and celebrating THE reason for this special event - his spirit was contagious, but especially on this day!

Even though he went home long ago, he left an indelible impression with me...I remember him as a man who loved God and loved his family enough to make sure they knew he loved God. He also loved his neighbor, regardless of what that neighbor looked like, where that neighbor lived, or what that neighbor believed. Anyone that knew him well would say he was generous to a fault and he gave grace beyond what was earned. He wanted to know others and he craved a deeper relationship with those he knew. Ironically it was those very character traits that caused others to “talk”. As a young child I remember over hearing conversations of those who accused him of being too generous and too trusting… often to a fault. Their accusations of his “faults” I now see as a reflection of the Spirit that lived in him.

The Christmas story that unfolded over 2000 years ago is a PERFECT example of such love, but on an unimaginable scale. We should all enjoy our holiday, holding firm to our family, traditions, and memories…But we can’t miss the real story of THE STAR that guides us to this celebration… The beginning of this story is documented by the good doctor Luke in the inspired and foretold story in his second chapter.  He writes about the entrance of One that was eventually accused of similar “faults”. Someone that craved a deeper relationship with us to the point that He was willing to step down from His throne as proof. When we read Luke’s account through THAT lens, only then can we can begin to understand the infinite creativity and love that it took to enter in this way.  While I miss him, especially during the Christmas season, I am forever grateful to have memories of Paw-Paw and his earthly example. This Christmas season, my hope is that you have an opportunity to spend it with AND reflect on those that love deeply, are generous to a fault, give grace beyond what is earned, and crave a deeper relationship with you... 

I hope we all allow THE Spirit that resides in us to be contagious this season!

~ Tom Livingston