I was struck recently by the true story of Larry Walters, a truck driver in Southern California in the early ’80s. Larry would drive his truck all week long, and on weekends would relax in his lawn chair in the backyard. At some point he started to think about how little excitement there was in his life. As he was thinking about it, he came up with the idea of tying some helium balloons to his lawn chair to get above tree top level and throw water balloons down on the neighbor kids. On July 2, 1982, with the help of some friends and his wife, Larry rigged his lawn chair with 42 helium balloons and cut the cord holding him to the ground. He leveled off at 17,000 feet. The first person to see him was a pilot coming into the LAX airport. The pilot had to radio in that there was a floating lawn chair, and it took four individual calls for the air traffic controllers believe him. 

Larry had the presence of mind to bring a pellet gun on his excursion, and ever so slowly he shot out the balloons one at a time to safely land 45 minutes later. Larry’s story reminds me that we too can begin knocking down each balloon, or distraction, in our lives to ground us during this Christmas season. Here are three words to help ground you in the true meaning of Christmas. 

1)Favor. This word shows up in reference to the 12- to 14-year-old Mary who had virtually no social status. Luke 1:26–30 says, “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of 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, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern 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.” 

Have you ever found yourself feeling insignificant or overlooked by God? Have you ever asked, “Does God really see me?” I can imagine Mary having some of these questions. For Mary, all those questions were answered one day with one visitation. The announcement comes from the angel Gabriel who stands in the presence of God saying, “…you have found favor with God.” This word for favor is “charis” in the Greek, which can also be translated as grace. Mary had found grace with God. This is something God was speaking when His Son was born, and this is something He is still speaking today. 

Christmas is a season of grace. The first Christmas was the most glorious display of grace, and this same grace is available today for all who receive Christ in their hearts. By receiving the grace of God through a relationship with Jesus, we become God’s favorite. I can also imagine the Lord pulling an angel aside in heaven, and pointing saying, “Do you see that one? She is my favorite. Do you see him? He is my favorite.” Earthly parents have some understanding of this. We can look at our different children knowing each of them is our favorite. If we can experience this on earth, how much more the heavenly Father has from His abundance resource of love. In the busyness of the Christmas season, remember that, because of Jesus, we are the Lord’s favorite. 

2)Blessed. Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, boldly declares a blessing over Mary’s life in Luke 1:45 saying, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” The word blessed can also be translated as happy. Mary was blessed because she believed the word the Lord brought to her. Blessing accompanied Mary’s life through her agreement with the Lord. She believed, and it was credited to her as righteousness. 

Christmas is a season that reminds us that Jesus came to bring happiness into our lives. There is a lie of the enemy that says that if you give your life to Jesus you will never be happy again. This could not be further from the truth. I have shared Jesus with people who have said, “I’ll give my life to the Lord at the end of my life when I am done having fun.” The inference here is that life outside of Jesus is more fun than one that is Christ centric. People have this view for a number of reasons, but I believe the prime one is that they have never tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). The truth is that the Lord sent His Son, Jesus, to bless you. Acts 3:26 says, “To bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” What a promise! Remember, Christmas is about God blessing you with the greatest gift you will ever know, a relationship with Jesus. 

3)Salvation. Favor and blessing come to those who are living in salvation. Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, prophesies in Luke 1:76-77, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins.” Don’t forget that Christmas is about salvation. Christmas is celebrating Jesus’ birth. Jesus’ name means, “I am God your salvation.” Jesus came to save people from their sins. 

This is not a general statement but a deeply personal declaration. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Christmas is a deeply personal time that we all respond to in some way. In fact, our response to the birth of Jesus will have a determining effect on how we will spend all of eternity. The most popular of Bible verses says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). To believe in Jesus does not mean knowing about Jesus. Many in our culture know about Jesus, but that is not the same as believing in Jesus. To believe in Jesus is to place your trust in Him alone for salvation. To commit your life into His hands alone as your Savior and Lord. Christmas is, above all, about salvation. 

For unto you is born this day, Christ the Lord. This Christmas season, Jesus desires nothing more than to be birthed in you through a relationship with Him. And beginning that relationship takes nothing more than simply and sincerely telling Jesus, “I not only thank you for what you have done for me and for saving me, but there is room for you in my heart. I make room for you today.”