Surveys tell us that about 70% of Americans celebrate Christmas. That makes it a special time of the year, even for those who make no claims to be followers of Christ. Many individuals travel so they can gather with family. Schools and businesses close. Churches offer special Christmas programs. Gifts are bought, wrapped, and exchanged with friends and family.

In the midst of all that excitement, even Christ’s followers need to take the time to slow down and reflect on what the Christmas celebration is really all about. May I add something you may find a little shocking, though? If the birth of Christ is the only event we are celebrating at this time of year, we are actually missing the main point of Christmas.

Several years ago, my wife and I received a very special Christmas tree ornament that reminded us of the primary thing we rejoice about during the Christmas season. It came from dear friends who also worship with us at Bethel Chapel Church. The ornament, which we hang on our tree every year, is very unusual. It isn’t bright and colorful. It isn’t anything normally associated with Christmas. We hang it on our tree because it carries a deep and meaningful reminder for us and for all who see it.

The ornament is a simple five-inch carpenter’s nail with the following poem attached by a red ribbon:

It’s Christmas time at our house

And we’re putting up our tree.

I wish I could find some simple way

To remember Christ’s gift to me.

Some little sign or symbol

To show friends stopping by,

The Little Babe was born one day

But He really came to die.

Some symbol of His nail-pierced hands,

The blood He shed for you and me.

What if I hung a simple nail

On my shining Christmas tree?

A crimson bow tied round the nail

As His blood flowed down so free,

To save each person from their sin

And redeem us for eternity.

I know it was His love for us

That held Him to the tree,

But when I see the simple nail

I know He died for me.

-Author unknown

The glory of Christmas celebrates the beginning of Christ’s work. He left the joy and beauty of heaven and died a cruel death so we could enjoy His beauty forever. We can’t really appreciate the birth of Christ if we don’t also celebrate His death and resurrection. Jesus Christ, the eternal God, became a man so He could step in and suffer for us. He paid for our sins. We know this is true because Jesus, the One who was dead, is now alive!

Because of His death, we too can truly live. “When you were [spiritually] dead in your transgressions … He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13–14).

Have you turned to Christ and embraced His work of forgiveness on your behalf? There would be no better time to do it than during this Christmas season.

This nail reminds me that:

The Greatest Gift of All

Was never laid

Beneath a Christmas tree

Or presented on bended knee

But hung upon a lonely tree,

The Gift of Life for All to see.

by Karen Cox

May all my readers find great joy in celebrating Christ! Merry Christmas to all of you!