What is the true meaning of Christmas? Ask people on the street and you’ll probably get at least a dozen different answers. Some might say: “Christmas is about giving.” “Christmas is about family and loved ones.” “Christmas is about being kind to strangers.” “Christmas is a church holiday.” “Christmas is about Jesus.” And all of these answers would be correct.

I am constantly reminded how far we have come from the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas isn’t just about giving or feeling loved, but it’s about true love. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Savior who came into this world to die… for everyone, even those who killed him. Jesus was God’s gift to everyone! God gave us the gift of love on Christmas Day.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 King James Version)

Christmas is supposed to be the time of year when we celebrate the birth of Christ. Christmas commemorates that God entered this world in human form. God has taken on human flesh. Nothing like that had ever taken place previously.

Unfortunately, Christmas has become a commercial holiday rather than a religious one. It’s mostly known as a time for businesses to make money, for people to give gifts, for children to be excited, for parties, for food, for family get-togethers and putting colorful lights and tinsel on the tree.

But, the “reason for the season” is supposed to be Jesus, not gifts, not parties, and not watching “the big game.” Of course, having celebrations, attending parties and watching the big game are not wrong, but out of gratitude for what God did for us, as we give each other gifts, let us become more conscious of the poor and less fortunate. The meaning of Christmas is supposed to be the recognition and appreciation of the birth of the one who loves us and died in our place.

The true meaning of Christmas is love. This is why the angel announced to the shepherds “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12 KJV)

To climax this announcement, a whole army of angels appeared and sang, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”

Their angelic song awakened our deep longing to experience the closeness of God, our desire to live in a peaceful world and to mend our relationships with our families and communities.

Let us hear this Good, this Very Good News. Let it encourage our faith in God. Let it resonate in our homes and families, among our friends and co-workers. May it be preached from our pulpits. The Savior is born and He and only He can take away fears and free us from sin.

This Christmas we need to unwrap the Savior, Jesus Christ, whose presence as the Infant of Bethlehem is God’s Word to us. God’s promise has been kept. “Fear not,” God is with you.

Today, let us remember the true meaning of Christmas… Peace on Earth, Good will toward Men, for the Savior has come to show us how to love, and to give us the greatest gift of love. Ask yourself how you can help others who are less fortunate. Show them the true meaning of Christmas, the gift of God’s love, and love others as God first loved you.

Jesus came in the world for all of us, and if we maintain our focus on this reason alone, then everyone’s Christmas will be merry. You cannot have Christmas without Christ. For believers, True Christmas is everyday.

The Rev. Tonya Boyce is the executive director of Eternal Grace Ministries of Pine Bluff.

Editor’s note: Pastors or associate pastors interested in writing for this section may submit articles to pbcnews@pbcommercial.com. Please include your phone number and the name and location of your church or ministry.