Summary: We say that Christmas is the season for giving. In reality, it is the season for receiving.
(This message was given as a Holy Communion meditation)
Old Testament Reading Isaiah 9:2-7
New Testament Reading Titus 2:11-14
Gospel Reading Luke 2:1-20
We say that Christmas is the season of giving. But is it really? Why do you buy gifts to give? Let’s be honest. Do you buy gifts because you know someone will be buying you a gift? While it may be more blessed to give than to receive, it is more difficult to receive. When we receive gifts, we feel we must reciprocate the gift. We fell guilty for not having bought the person a gift.
Money for Christmas is tight for a lot of families this year. It is for ours. We have cut back on the number of gifts and the amount of money we normally spend. We even talked with our family and agreed to only buy for the children. I can assure you that someone in our family who agreed not to buy me a gift will by me a gift. And that gift will be hard to receive. Why? Because I will not have a gift to give.
Christmas is not the season for giving. It is the season for receiving. We cannot give gifts with joy and cheerfulness until we have received gifts with joy and cheerfulness. We cannot become cheerful givers until we have cheerfully received.
Here’s how this works. If I receive a gift from someone for whom I not bought a gift, then I feel beholden to that person until I have an opportunity to give them a gift.
A couple of years ago, I went to a Promise Keepers Conference in Atlanta with a few men from Wesley Chapel UMC. Every time we stopped to buy a meal, one of the men insisted on paying for my meal. After the third time he insisted, I insisted that he would not buy my meal. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Are you going to rob me of blessing by not letting me give you this gift?” I felt about this tall. He was being generous and I felt guilty for not accepting his gift.
A couple of months after we moved to Gadsden, I received a card from Mrs. Ruth Shafer. It was a wonderful card welcoming me to Bellevue. Enclosed in the card was a check. Now, I had never met Mrs. Shafer. I was shocked to receive a gift from someone I didn’t know. So, I began wondering what she was up to. I wondered if she was trying to buy me. I asked a couple of people about her and found out that I was completely wrong in my thoughts. Mrs. Shafer was a very generous woman who was willing to share all that God had blessed her with. Again, I felt about this tall.
How well do you receive gifts? Can you receive a gift in the spirit of joy and cheer that it is given in?
God has given us a gift: a baby. A baby who is our Savior, our Counselor, our Prince of Peace, the very grace of God. How do you reciprocate such a gift? How do you reciprocate a gift that is so expensive? You can’t. All you can is receive it.
Will you receive God’s gift of Jesus Christ to you this Christmas?