To celebrate Christmas is not a difficult thing to do. Everybody is doing it one way or another. At least they are going through the motions. The average child is concerned about the gifts at Christmas he or she is going to receive. The same is true for most adults. Many hours of shopping, wrapping and sending go into this annual activity. Commercials for weeks every year emphasize the giving and receiving of gifts.
Behind all the gift giving is God’s great gift to us – the gift of the Savior Jesus Christ. The custom of giving gifts at Christmas was originally intended to be a reminder of God’s gift to us. We all know that with the modern emphasis on material gifts, the original significance of Christmas gifts has been forgotten. The actual celebration of Jesus’ birth is only of secondary importance to many people if that.
With all the other customs that are connected with Christmas, it may seem like worshiping Jesus on Christmas Day isn’t all that important. Since the world has taken over the Christmas festival and changed its meaning, we are in danger of losing the true meaning of Christmas.
But look at what God has given to us! It is the gift of the Savior. This gives the same feeling children have when they unwrap a Christmas present, they are excited to find what was given to them. The gift God gives is given to every one of us. It wasn’t given only to other people. It was given to us too.
You have heard of parents making sacrifices for their child. If you are a parent, you no doubt have made many sacrifices for the sake of your children. But did you ever hear of a father sacrificing his son? That is what God did. And he did it for our benefit. This is not a gift that we deserve. And it is the greatest gift we could have. But most of the world ignores this gift. People are more interested in gifts they can touch even though by next year they won’t even remember those gifts.
But to us who know this gift of Jesus, it is almost unbelievable that we should be given such a great gift.
The skeptic might say that we who have this great gift aren’t any better off. We have to live in this world just like everyone else. We have to work and suffer just like other people. And we have to die. So what good is the gift of Jesus?
The blessing of this gift may not be obvious but it is there just the same. The blessing that comes from this gift is the hope and promise of everlasting life. It is the promise of being with Christ. This blessing might not be obvious right now, and unbelievers may not appreciate it, but it is the greatest blessing that we could be given.
When you receive material gifts this Christmas, may they remind you of God’s great Christmas gift to you. As your joy in these other gifts declines over time, the joy of God’s gift to you will mean more and more. Then God’s gift will not be wasted on you and you will enjoy the benefits of God’s Christmas gift to you long after you have celebrated you last Christmas on this earth.
(Pastor Marc Frey is the pastor at Peace of Our Savior Lutheran Church and Preschool (WELS) New Carlisle, OH www.peaceofoursavior.net)