Christmas Is—Presents and Presence

Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)Luke2:1-7

What word would you use in Christmas Is…?

If you’re a kid and are asked this it would be the presents.

What was the best gift you ever received as a kid for Christmas? Mine was a bike. Yeah, I know I’m a girl and I should say doll. But my parents already went that route only to find I used my dolls in my combat units as wound victims. My mother was so happy when I grew out of that phase and wanted to actually behave like a girl. I didn’t go the girly girl route but I soon found it easier to manipulate boys rather than outdo them. Anyway, I digress.

The joy of an unexpected gift. Ever experience that? Isn’t it wonderful? We’ve recently experienced an unexpected gift when one Sunday, our granddaughter, Haylie, came to Sunday dinner wearing this shirt:


Yep! Another grandchild is on the way! We are very excited and very surprised! It’s definitely that joy of an unexpected gift.

Christmas is a phenomenon in our society. It drives the economy. It messes with our emotions. The things we do for gifts sometimes goes beyond the pale. My story goes like this. Haylie wanted an Anna dress. A particular Anna dress. Of course, when we went in search of this “particular” Anna dress it was nowhere to be found. I’m thinking we traveled a minimum of 200 miles and went to just about as many stores. Miraculously, we found the dress. Don’t ask me how, but the store we thought couldn’t possibly have it had it. On Christmas morning this kid went wild! In fact, she has loved this dress so much that this year she was still able to wear it and wore it for Halloween.

Anna Dress

I must say, that although this is one of those stories whose point is obvious, we will sometimes go to any length to get the gift we seek, the smile on that face made it all worth the craziness.

Another thing we find about the Christmas season is the amount of money spent is amazing. Why?

Why do we send cards? Is it love? Is that what drives it? When it comes right down to it, it’s not only the presents but it’s the presence. It’s not even your birthday and people get you stuff.

Minus all the gifts, the events, the money spent, the time wasted, when we settle, it’s the story. We come back to it year after year because it feeds our soul. But none of this would have happened without the birth of Christ.

The story begins…there’s this new tax plan. That’s why Mary and Joseph must travel to Bethlehem, Joseph’s hometown. Then it comes the time for her to be delivered. Ever realize that Jesus was born homeless? But his birth changed everything. It became the presence of God with us. A baby born in a backward country to peasants who didn’t even have a place to welcome their child. But then that’s how God rolls.

The name Emmanuel means God is with us. Do we understand the power of it? We are never alone regardless of the circumstances. We experience doubts and fears, celebration and happiness, sadness and loneliness. However, the name Emmanuel represents the present and the presence—God is with us. It is the word for Christmas. The power of this will change the way you pray. The power of this will change the way you think. The power of this will change the way you act. The power of this will change the way you lead your life.

Know the story, understand the story, tell the story, be thankful for the story.

Merry Christmas

And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!


Regina Stone Matthews was born in Columbia, South Carolina. She attended Therrell High School in Atlanta, Georgia and West Georgia College in Carrollton, Georgia. Currently, Regina resides in Richardson, Texas with her husband, David. She has three daughters and four grandchildren. She is the author of the children's chapter books "Elizabeth Marie Hutchinson-When I Dream;" "Dealing with Margaret: Elizabeth Marie Hutchinson-When I Dream" and the double award-winning book "I'm a Detective! Elizabeth Marie Hutchinson-When I Dream."