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Pastor and author Richard Foster writes about genuine, joyous giving. "Giving with a glad and generous heart has a way of rooting out the tough old miser within us. Just the very act of letting go of money or some other treasure does something great within us."1 Such genuine, joyous giving awakens us to the true message of Christmas and reminds us of God's free, unconditional gift of Jesus to us. God generosity toward us in Christ opens us up to new possibilities of being generous with others.

It was like a beautiful tale from a storybook. The young couple had found each other and began their marriage together full of hope and anticipation. It all seemed so perfect. They were happy, with good jobs, a nice home, and a loving relationship. In time, they celebrated the incredible joy of the birth of their first and only child. They were loving, caring, and devoted parents. Life seemed rich and complete. They were a family.

Then the unthinkable happened. The beautiful little baby who had filled their lives with so much joy died suddenly. Their lives turned from hope and joyful anticipation to numbing emptiness and pain. They were devastated and agonized over their loss and wondered what they could have done to prevent such a senseless tragedy. Life no longer seemed complete. Instead of the excitement of new beginnings they were consumed by endings, darkness instead of light, as they struggled to hold their fragile love together.

It all seemed hopeless until a simple knock on their door changed their lives forever. There at the door, stood a Native man holding a small baby. He reached forward, handing the child to the couple. "Here, this baby is for you," he said and then he left.

I still feel my tears as I think about the young Native mother who gave her own baby to fill the lives of the grieving couple. Native people call it custom adoption. For me, it is much more. It is the ultimate gift of love.

Christmas is our celebration of God's ultimate gift of love. God saw our pain, our devastation, our hopelessness, our brokenness, and our fragile love and he loved us so much that "...he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Jesus is God's ultimate gift. "Here, this baby is for you."2

"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us." Jesus, the greatest gift of Christmas--for you, for me, for everyone. Amen.

(1 Cited from: Clergy Talk, December 1998 (Sequim, WA), p. 11. 2 Cited from: Lee Barry, "This Baby is For You," in: Come Let Us Adore Him: LAMP 1995 Advent Devotions, p. 30.

From a sermon by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson, Christ is the Greatest Gift, 12/20/2010 )

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