Summary: What is the real meaning of Christmas gifts? Real gifts are costly to give, and accepting them means accepting the responsibility that comes with them. Especially the kinds of gifts God gives. Student Ministry PowerPoint format.
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)
This lesson was originally presented in PowerPoint format to a High School student ministry. If you have questions or would like a copy of the original PowerPoint, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Slide image: office gift exchange – good gifts and bad gifts
Slide text: If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)
How many of you have seen the advertisement for the movie “Black Christmas”? It’s getting a lot of media attention and a lot of people are pretty upset by the topic and timing – a horror movie in a Christmas setting released on Christmas. People are saying that it is offensive, because it violates the whole spirit of the season – that this is not what Christmas is about. Personally, while I agree in principle, I prefer to vote with my feet. If you don’t like a movie, don’t go see it.
What really bothers me about this, though, is not the people who made the movie, but the people are complaining about it. You see, if they just said “The movie is offensive and contrary to everything Christmas is about,” then I would probably agree with them, but then these same people go on to say “Christmas is about giving presents, Santa elves and reindeer, decorating houses, holiday shopping – that’s the reason for the season.” What?
I think Christmas is just all mixed up. The world has forgotten what Christmas is all about. If I asked you about the meaning of Christmas, hopefully you would know that I would not be looking for answers like Santa and elves, shopping and presents, or holiday meals and decorating houses. We get caught up in that, but of course, that’s not the real meaning of Christmas. Christmas is not about gifts, but about “The Gift” – God himself being born as a human in order to live a sinless life among us and die for our sins in our place. The greatest gift. The kind of gift that God gives.
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)
That’s what we’re going to talk about today – the kind of gifts that God gives.
At my office this week we had a potluck and gift exchange. There are about 30 of us in my department, and it was really interesting to see the different gifts and people’s reactions to them. It was one of those things where you take turns, and each person can choose to open a new gift or take one from someone that has already been unwrapped. Some gifts were really popular and got “stolen” several times like dartboards, chocolate, and blankets. Some gifts were real bombs, and couldn’t be unloaded, like candles.
There was a self-heating coffee mug that is in it’s third year of re-gifting – kind of a tradition, now. No one wants it – the only way to get rid of it is to wrap it up and bring it back next year.
That’s me just after I picked a package and unwrapped it – to find the satin Santa shorts and hat. My buddy Jerry Wild, who is 6’8” and used to work for the CIA, got candles. The next person to choose stole my shorts, and I wound up going home with a s’mores-making kit. No one wanted Jerry’s candles.
Face it, some people are good gifters, and some people aren’t. I know when I was growing up, I could expect a really cool gift from my uncle Wendell, but my grandmother would always give me something really embarrassing. Like a lime green and dark brown crocheted blanket. With orange flowers. Be still my heart. Do you have relatives like that?
Now here’s a video of a young man who got a gift he was excited about. [clip of boy getting Nintendo 64 at Christmas and going nuts – download on internet at http://www.ebaumsworld.com/2006/04/n64.html ]
I hate to say it, but God is not what the world would call a good gifter. God showers us with gifts, but he rarely gives things like an XBox or a Barnes and Noble gift card. God gives tough gifts. Gifts that most people would rather not have, if the truth be told. God’s gifts to us have a way of interrupting our lives and messing up our carefully-laid plans.
The nativity story opens up the lives of Joseph and Mary to let us look at how God’s gift affected them. Think about this. As we talked about last week, both Mary and Joseph were honored by the New Testament authors for trying to live morally pure lives in an morally bankrupt world. That was not any easier, or any more popular at that time for them than it is for you today. They believed they had found in each other someone who could walk that lonely road, together, sharing their convictions, their dreams. They were no doubt excited about their wedding plans and their future together. They were imagining their quiet little home and their little family.