Summary: A Sermon given on Christmas day, but can be adapted to a pre-Christmas message easily. This sermon refocuses the emphasis of gift giving on what we have received in Christ Jesus as a gift.
THE MANY GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS
There has been a lot of re-focus this year on Christmas, and its true meaning. I guess in one sense all of the attacks on Christmas by the Remove-God crowd has accomplished that one thing (even if unintentionally) – it has caused a lot of people to re-think and perhaps even to re-align themselves as to the true meaning of the “Reason for the Season.”
As believers, we realize the real meaning of Christmas is about the celebration of the birth and purpose of the Christ – God’s gift to mankind for because of our need for salvation. When we really think about it, that old expression “heaven help us” is much more than a cliché – it is a confession. Oh God, please help us, because we cannot help ourselves. We cannot save ourselves. There is not one of here today that (if we were totally honest) would not have to admit that we are less than perfect – and many of us know that there is no use even trying to pretend that we are anything other than sinners in need of God’s marvelous grace.
In any discussions about Christmas, we would all have to acknowledge that there is one word that comes up more often than any other. That is the idea of gifts. Christmas is about gifts, and I don’t know that we should try and change that. I do think the emphasis has been moved from the main GIFT of Christmas (the gift of Jesus) to the materialistic side of Christmas – what we get (as well as what we give). But the idea of Christmas is that in the giving of gifts, we have the opportunity to express our LOVE for one another. And in the true spirit of Christmas, we know that we find a degree of joy in giving to those we love gifts that somehow try and express our love towards those recipients. Yes, whether we agree or not, Christmas is about gifts.
Illus: The story is told that some soldiers leaving an island at the end of World War 2 tried to convey Christmas to the native islanders with gifts and Christmas songs. They had won the battle for the land from the grasp of the Japanese, now they needed to win the hearts of the locals. So they gave out of their own meager possessions. (Fighting soldiers can’t carry, much less preserve much on the battle field, so they gave things like hand made crosses, candy bars, and personal Bibles they had carried in battle). Years later one of these men visited that island and was shocked to find a particularly strong church there. He was invited to attend the service, which consisted of gift giving and Christmas songs. The oddity was, it wasn’t Christmas time… yet when the islanders had accepted Christ, they had declared Christmas Day to be celebrated each Lord’s day.
All over this world, Christmas has become about the giving and receiving of gifts. I am not here today to try and change that, but rather to try and put some perspective on the BEST GIFTS of Christmas.
Today being Christmas Sunday (and especially Christmas Day this year) … you have already enjoyed your gifts. I hope you received what you were wanting (or expecting) – and if not, I hope you were surprised by the gifts you did receive. I pray you know the love that was behind those gifts. (I think it a good thing, this idea of Christmas, by the way). Every year I am amazed at the new gadgets and gizmos that we see. And it is joyful to see someone’s face light up when they get “that perfect gift” that they know was just for them. WE could spend the rest of the morning telling about our gifts, as they are all fresh on our minds.
Often, we speak about the gifts that we should give God, too. And I think that is a wonderful thing to remember. After all, it is HIS birthday! Shouldn’t HE be the one that is receiving the very best gifts. Perhaps you have made a gift list for Christmas this year. And on your list I’m sure you have listed things like: faithful contributions – time – projects – expressing more love for others – patience and kindness towards those around us …. . And I think Christ is honored by those gifts when they are generous and genuine. And with His help I pray you will truly give those gifts throughout this year. It would be great if every day became like Christmas day in ALL our hearts.
But I want you to think today with me about the greatest gift of all time – Jesus, the Christ. Not just the baby in a manger (though we most often think of the Christ-child when we think of Christmas. But may the Lord also help us to understand that Christmas is so much more than remembering that it is Jesus’ birthday. It is about remembering that the baby in the manger also became the life-giving sacrifice on a cruel Roman cross some 33 years later. It is about remembering the sweet joy of a young couple with their first born son – and the agonizing sorrow of a small group of disciples and family who were seeing their whole world shattered as Jesus hung there on a public hillside – yet still stretching His arms out to say I – LOVE – Y O U!