My Most Memorable Christmas Ever

December 2022

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” — II Corinthians 9:15

Well friends, Christmas 2022 is on my mind. When our boys were small, we would always celebrate Christmas with my wife’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Harper of La Marque, Texas. Donna’s parents would always spend lots of money on our three boys and their cousin Derek for Christmas. In preparation for our visit, MeMe, our boys’ grandmother, would cook many delicious pies, and her Christmas tree would have gifts around the tree piled up almost three feet high. Upon arriving at the Harper’s home, we would smell the turkey in the oven and the freshly baked apple, pecan, and coconut pies, and we would see the beautifully decked Christmas tree with many lights and Christmas decorations throughout the house. Our three sons—Brent, Ryan and Eric—enjoyed the Harper Christmas immensely; we all did.

But my most memorable Christmas of all was the Christmas of 1950. I was a second-grade student. In the summer of 1950, our family—the Gray family—had moved from our hometown of Bartlesville, Oklahoma to a large cotton farm near Penelope, Texas, located somewhere near Waco and Hillsboro. We were there as sharecroppers to work the Hoosie farm. We hoed lots of cotton and pulled lots of cotton bolls that year. I will never forget December 24, 1950. At that time, nine of our fourteen siblings were still living at home—Jack, Pete, Bill, Mary, Ted, me, Charles, Sue, and Wesley.

On Christmas Eve, Mom told us that money was very scarce and that there would be no gifts on Christmas Day. I went to sleep that night very sad. After we had all gone to sleep, something awakened me. I heard voices and, out of curiosity, I crawled out of bed, cracked the bedroom door, and saw several strangers talking to Mom. They had a large cardboard box with them. I heard them say they were from a church there in Penelope and decided that they should bring some Christmas gifts for the Grays. That church was the First Baptist Church of Penelope. I quietly closed the door and, with sweet peace, went back to sleep knowing that we would have a good Christmas the next day.

Yes, the Christmas of 1950 was my most memorable Christmas ever. Our family was the recipient of a large box of Christmas gifts from strangers that we did not know. The incredible love shown to the Gray family that night was overwhelming to me. The little First Baptist Church of Penelope truly manifested to us the true Christmas spirit. But the greatest Christmas ever was when Christ was born in Bethlehem! The beloved apostle John wrote in His gospel, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever [that means everybody and anybody] believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Christianity always begins with love—God’s love. Think about that for a moment. The great God Jehovah, Creator of the universe, while seated on His throne in heaven, saw a broken, sick, hurting, and sinful world comprised of millions of people who desperately needed healing, forgiveness, deliverance, and purpose in life. This plan of redemption was conceived by our heavenly Father a long time before the original Christmas story occurred.

The apostle Peter writes “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold …But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot; Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (I Peter 1:18-20). And the apostle Paul writes “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

In Revelation, John writes “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8).

Before Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden; before Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and even King David, God had a plan of redemption, forgiveness, and deliverance for each of us, and this plan is the real Christmas story.

The greatest Christmas story is not my story or your Christmas story, but the story prompted by the Holy Spirit found in Matthew 2:1-12, Luke 2:1-21, and John 1:9-14. The only begotten Son of God—the second person of the Trinity—was sent by the Father God to this blue planet called Earth to be the babe of Bethlehem.

Matthew writes, “The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20-21).

In Romans, Paul writes “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). The greatest Christmas gift ever is the incarnation of Christ, which made possible the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which then provides for us many spiritual gifts:

1. In Acts 2:38, Peter says that if we will believe and repent for our sins, “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

2. Romans 5:15 speaks of the “gift of grace.”

3. Romans 5:17 tells us about the “gift of righteousness"

4. Romans 6:23 says, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

5. I Corinthians 12:4 says, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.”

6.Ephesians 2:8 reads, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

7. In I Timothy 4:14, Paul reminds Timothy, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee.”

8. James 1:17 reads, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.”

9. Romans 11:29 says, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

10. Luke 11:13 says, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

In II Corinthians 9:15, Paul speaks of Christ as the “unspeakable gift.” The ancient Greek word for unspeakable is anekdiegetos and means “indescribable.” How can one truly describe and explain all of the great characteristics and attributes of Christ and also explain what He provides for those who will receive Him as Savior and Lord? Dear friend, it is so important that we understand the doctrine of the incarnation and the doctrine of the cross. Because Christ was willing to drink the bitter cup; to accept the beating by Roman soldiers, to carry His cross via dolorosa, and to lay Himself willingly down to be nailed to the old rugged tree, and then to be crowned with a crown of thorns, and finally to receive the spear in His side—all of this suffering to pay the price for the sins of the world. And this great sacrifice pays the price for my sins and your sins. By understanding and greatly appreciating the significance of the cross and what it provides for each believer, we can be truly saved, sanctified, anointed, and be able to live and walk this Christian walk in victory, peace, and assurance of God’s love and continued grace.

Paul wrote, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift,” which is the best Christmas gift ever! Will you take time this Christmas season to thank Him and share Him with others?


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