Truly He Taught Us
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love, and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother;
And in His name, all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise His holy name.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas this year, with piles of brightly wrapped presents
and tables overflowing with warm food, I can’t seem to get these lyrics from my favorite
Christmas carol out of my mind. As we stand in long lines to make one more purchase and rush
around to put the finishing touches on what we hope will be the perfect holiday, many of us will
break our budgets, be overtaken by unhealthy stresses, or completely forget to praise His holy
name as we strive for unattainable perfection. You see, we forget that as our children long for
Hatchimals or the latest video games, the children of Syria are longing for peace, shelter, and
basic necessities. We forget that as we worry about rolls overcooking in the oven or running out
of cookies, many families in other parts of the world have to send their children to bed with
hungry, rumbling tummies. We forget that as trivial arguments erupt between relatives around
dinner tables, many people are alone this Christmas, desperately missing loved ones.
What if you didn’t step foot in a store this week? What if you took the money you would
have spent on last-minute gifts and donated it to help someone you will never meet who is
bound by oppression this Christmas? What if you thought of one thing each day you could do to
show love to someone else, even a stranger? Maybe even someone who doesn’t know the
unconditional love of Jesus Christ? What if you stayed home and sang sweet hymns of joy with
your children instead of rushing them around from one errand to the next?
I would be lying if I said that I don’t find joy in watching my kids open the presents I’ve
carefully selected for them and making their wishes come true. Yet, when all is said and done,
the gifts that are truly meaningful are the kinds that don’t come in packages. And when it comes
to Christmas, I hope my children will always look beyond the walls of this house, where they
have not only everything they need but most everything that they want as well. I hope that they
will be led to give and to love, in response to the most beautiful gift that God gave the world, for
this is the true joy of Christmas.