Remembering Snapshots of Christmas Past

christmas image with kids putting ornamants on the tree

At our family reunion, I shuffled through a stack of old Christmas photos. Each snapshot told a story—a precious memory captured in still life. As I looked at the photos, stared at our beaming faces and wondered if our delight mirrored the expectation and joy of that first Christmas morning. Memories of God’s faithfulness flooded my mind. Not only his faithfulness to me, but his faithful promise to send the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus.

Snapshots of God’s Faithfulness 

  1. God comes to the lowly. 
    I picked up a photo of me when I was five, seated next to our Christmas Brown Christmas tree. It had been haphazardly propped up in a playpen, protecting the sparse branches from my inquisitive toddler brother. Maybe we could only afford a Charlie Brown tree, but I still received the present I wanted most—a tea set. Our lowly tree hasn’t deterred the arrival of my gift. And humble beginnings hadn’t deterred the arrival of Jesus. Even though he was God, he was not born in a palace like a king, but born in a stable. 

    Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger (Luke 2:11-12 NIV).
  2. God comes with joy.
    In another photo, my wide grin revealed two new front teeth. Home-permed hair framed my beaming face as I cradled a new doll. That Christmas Eve the doorbell chimed. A large box of colorfully wrapped presents greeted us. Our excited voices rang, “Santa came!”  But on that first Christmas, one greater than Santa arrived hailed by a multitude of angelic hosts rejoicing and praising God. Jesus came amidst shouts of joy.

    Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2 10-11 NKJV).
  3. God comes with surprises. 
    One year my mom surprised me with beautifully-sewn Barbie clothes. She even made matching hats for my Barbie from the med cups she had saved from her last hospital maternity visit. 

    I treasured this surprise gift.
    I can’t imagine the surprise Mary and Joseph felt when magi from the east traveled so far to bring extravagant gifts to their newborn son. 

    On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11 NIV).
  4. God comes with sacrificial love.
    As clear as a photo, I recalled another Christmas. That year, my mom pulled out a heavy wooden box filled with sterling silverware she had received as a wedding gift. She said since we didn’t use it anymore, she planned to sell the silver. Many years later, I learned that her wedding silver paid for Christmas presents the year my dad was out of work. I’m grateful for my mom’s sacrifice of love. It reminds me of the sacrifice of God’s only Son. 

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him   shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV).
  5. God comes to dwell with us.  
    In a recent photo of myself, a red beret covered my bald head. That year, I celebrated Christmas between chemotherapy cycles. On Christmas Eve, I sat in the balcony under the vaulted ceiling of my home church for our candlelight Christmas Eve service. Flames from our candles danced to the joyous strains of Christmas carols echoing throughout the ornate church. God reminded me that he had been with me so far on this ovarian cancer journey and he would see me through. I recalled how God had been with his people throughout the ages, always faithful to his promises.

    He had been with me and he would still be with me because he is Emmanuel—God With Us. 

    The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us) (Matthew 1:23 NIV).

    As I sift through these snapshots from Christmas past, I’m amazed by God’s faithfulness. Not only his faithfulness to me, but his faithfulness throughout the centuries to his chosen people. I am reminded that the joy I experienced at Christmas was only a shadow of the true joy of that first Christmas when Jesus was born.

    I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old (Psalm 77:11)

    Where do you see God’s faithfulness in your snapshots of Christmas past?

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