The Christmas Brew
By Bill Byrnes
Illustrated by Rich Gowran

John 3:16: For God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life!

Those of us who are on the “mature” side of life  (in my case – very mature–66)  are very fortunate at this time of year. The reason — –we can drink from a special brew.

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A special Yuletide brew.

It’s a Yuletide concoction so potent that the first  sip  totally grabs control of your mind & transports you into other places & other times. The best part of it is… no hang-over, no headaches, no nausea…. no munchies! It’s just a total “mellowing-out”. Dickens was the first to popularize this elixir when he referred to it as the “Ghost of Christmases Past”. (A fitting name for this brew) There are also those who, unfortunately, feel just the opposite effect. Their Christmas-time reflections might trigger some awful, traumatic memories from the past. I wish them only the best, with the hope that they can, at some point, start adding to the “plus” side of the holiday ledger of emotions.
Over the past several years each time that I’ve imbibed this Christmas tonic, one point has become very clear: the warmest and best memories are of giving. There’s only 3 memories I have about receiving gifts. These are from when I was a toddler (and for any other guys my age–yes, my Robert The Robot broke right away too!).
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Robert the Robot–&  this is NOT Bill Byrnes!

And each episode of my Christmas giving leads me down the same path: at times I’ve given a lot, other times, not as much–but I’ve never given everything!
Now you know where I’m going with this story, especially given the opening  quote from John. Will we ever be able to, even remotely, understand how much God loves us that he gave us his only son. He literally gave us EVERYTHING: his love, his Son, the path to everlasting life! He also gave us a special dessert, (for lack of better descriptions) let’s just call it “humble-pie”.
Just think about it: the birth of Jesus was the GREATEST event in the history of the world! This event even changed the perception of time: all years prior referred to as “B.C.”, years after his death as “A.D.”. Man’s greatest event and who on earth even knew about it? Just a handful of people for sure; but there were no announcements, no huge celebrations(by mortals), no emissaries, no banquets or parties. The only celebrants were Mary and Joseph, some shepherds and 3 Kings who followed a star. Talk about humble beginnings– the greatest Prince ever–and his first nap was, most likely, taken in an empty cattle-feeder! It was only fitting that years later, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus paid tribute to the humble multitudes. Matthew 5:3;5:5: “Blessed is the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”…”Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.”.
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The birth of Jesus–the greatest event in the history of the world!

The main advantage of enjoying this “Heavenly” pie is that it is always topped-off with an ample portion of pride. Once you’ve tasted humility and swallowed your pride any arrogance you might have dissipates and you truly appreciate the value of giving. You experience a richness of flavor to your life gained only by knowing that acts of giving, no matter how insignificant the object or effort , were truly their own reward when they enriched the lives of others. Matthew 25:34; 25:40: “Then the King will say to those at his right hand ‘Come, you that are blessed by my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…because those of you who gave to the LEAST of members of my family…gave to me!’”.
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Will we be on the right or the left side of Jesus when it’s our time?

So, this Holiday season, after the shopping and “endless” errands. Don’t forget to kick-back and enjoy whatever portion of Christmas Brew you’ve accumulated–and don’t forget at least a smidgeon of humble-pie. It’s a great combination! Better yet, it grows each Christmas.  Next year-you’ll have more!
Have a Blessed & Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday season! Love to all of you!

  Bill  Byrnes

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