The Greatest Gift…

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

We see wonderful Christmas decorations as we drive around town. If you listen to KUSC-FM, at this time of year, you are listening to great Christmas music. The Christmas season is properly a time of joy. It is also a time for families and dinners and gifts. It is our celebration of the birth of our Savior in Bethlehem. A devout young woman named Mary was appointed by God to be the mother of the Savior. She must have been unbelievably stunned when the angel Gabriel told her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah.

“In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus….And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I have no husband….And Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word and the angel departed from her. (From Luke 1:26-38)

Mary did not say to the Angel Gabriel that he had come to the wrong town and was speaking to the wrong woman. She accepted God’s will for her life! Perhaps, it was easier than we think, because she knew many of the Old Testament passages that spoke of a coming Messiah:

God spoke to Moses:

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed.” Deuteronomy 18:15

“…But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

“For unto us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder; and his name will be called Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

We gather in our churches to celebrate the birth of our Savior. We read the passages that pertain to his birth. We sing the glorious hymns of Christmas. We offer our thanks to God. There are a lot of things that we can do, but we must remember that the great gift in Christmas is Jesus Christ. The first Christmas gifts were given by the Magi to our Savior and his family.

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is:
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.