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    FROM THE PASTOR’S HEART

    Is there a family tradition you’ve retained that helps keep Jesus the focus at Christmas?


    Pastor Scott Leigh of Pacific Coast Bible Church, Oceanside: My dad always waited ’til Dec. 24th to get the Christmas tree and would usually take me into the woods to find just the right one. He felt this was the best way to celebrate Christmas and not cheapen its significance. Despite pressure from all those whose trees were up long before Christmas and the intense commercialism that isn’t even half as bad as today, he’d insist that the tree must be done “right” and that included our family decorating the tree on Christmas Eve together. Homemade ornaments took first priority over store-bought ones and tinsel had to be placed one at a time, not clumped. We did blow a few to the top when he wasn’t looking! Finally, the star went on last. This tradition helped me see that the world shouldn’t change what I “believe” because of our culture’s values or take over what’s “right” just because of peer pressure. As a Christian now, I’ve learned that Christmas must be “just right” too, even if it cuts against the grain of this world, and that means Jesus has to be glorified and the center of attention, just like our Christmas trees used to be.


    Pastor David B. Speas, Trinity Baptist Church, Poway: I am certain you are like me in wondering where the time goes, trying to figure out how you will find time to do all the things necessary to get ready for Christmas…when will the gifts get purchased, wrapped and mailed; the tree trimmed, house decorated, and on and on… If, in fact, these are all too familiar questions, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on what is truly important. A family tradition that helps us focus at Christmas is to bake a cake, put candles on it, light them and sing, “Happy Birthday to Jesus.” Then we read the Christmas story from Luke 2. In the busyness of the season, protect your quiet moments to study this passage and reflect on the powerful love wrapped up in a tiny baby.


    Pastor Larry O. Patterson, First Step Christian Fellowship, Spring Valley: Truly at this time of the year, family traditions cause us to reflect back on many Christmas mornings. All we wanted to do as children was to get those Christmas gifts opened as soon as we could. Adopted at the age of three, all I could think of was, “How much under the Christmas tree is for me?” My foster parents understood my excitement, but first taught me to pray and give thanks unto the one who had made it possible, Jesus Christ! Today, that family tradition has and will be passed on to our children and our children’s children, because Jesus Christ is “The reason for the season!” (St. John 3:16)


    Pastor Lloyd T. Dailey, Emmanuel Community Church, Lakeside: Childhood memories are precious thoughts,
    Tucked away in the recesses of our hearts.
    Forget-me-nots of years gone bye,
    Yet they form the NOW of you and I.

    Parents have great opportunities to “Tell the old old story of Jesus” to their children in so many wonderful ways at Christmas. A Christmas memory that has influenced my life and given me great joy in helping others was a visit to an orphanage with my mother at an early age. She loved the children. Though mother died when I was eight years old, her prayers and love for others have greatly affected my life and ministry.

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