“A gift given and a gift received, is what the first Christmas was all about,” said Pastor Dot Traughber of the Bethel Family Worship Center, here in Lafayette.
One night over 2,000 years ago, the Virgin Mary was staring out her window daydreaming about her life with Joseph, her future husband, when all of a sudden a shining light startled her and an angel appeared and spoke to her. “I am the angel Gabriel sent by God to tell you that you have found favor with Him and will conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. You have been chosen among all women and you shall name him Jesus and he will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest.”
“Mary received the first gift, finding favor with the living God,” Pastor Dot continued, “and the honor of becoming the mother of the greatest gift we have ever been given. Joseph received the second gift by providing a home for Jesus and leading him into adulthood, until he began his ministry.”
“The shepherds received the third gift, the glorious revelation and visitation from angels proclaiming the birth of the Messiah, while the Wise Men received the fourth, being granted the honor of presenting the newborn babe with their own gifts from afar and the glory of worshiping the King.”
“The first Christmas event occurred during times of economic hardship, oppression, and cruel dictatorship,” Pastor Dot explained, “but the spirit of giving rose above all of this, and it was about the gift of love, compassion, understanding, and caring.”
“A gift given is loving each other, spending time with our families, caring for our elderly, praying for our soldiers on the battlefront, taking food to the shut-ins, sending a card to the lonely and brokenhearted, and distributing Christmas presents to the children whose parents aren’t able to provide anything extra during these troubled times,” Pastor Dot said, as she spoke with tears in her eyes. “God grant that the spirit of the first Christmas live on in our hearts always.”
And in this wonderful season of giving Operation Christmas Joy, sponsored by the Bethel Family Worship Center has once again brought peace and good will to many families in the surrounding area.
”Operation Christmas Joy” which we started over ten years ago, as a mission outreach to help families in the eastern Kentucky region of the Appalachians, was such a success through the years that we felt we should bring our mission work back to Macon County,” she explained, “so for the last two years we have helped many families here in our county and others who needed our help and guidance. This December alone we have distributed 500 food boxes and hundreds of toys to children from infants to 18-year-old teenagers.”
“We could not have done this without the help of many of our local supporters. We want to thank each of them for their continued support and understanding of the need in this area. God is our source, but you are his hands. Thank you for allowing God to use you to be a blessing to so many people.”
“We also want to thank the many volunteers from Bethel Family Worship Center and the community as well,” the pastor said, “who have worked hard and contributed so much to this years project.”
The story never ends, the gift is passed on from one generation to another, from one year to the next and the spirit of that first Christmas lives on in the hearts of many today.
“For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”