I can tell that we are nearing my favorite holiday because Christmas cards are beginning to arrive. As I sit and read them, I see phrases like “All the joy that life can bring,” “Christmas is the promise of peace and hope for the world,” “May the glad tidings of Christmas fill your heart with joy all year,” “To wish you the peace of love at Christmas and always,” “A season of hope — a promise of peace — a reminder of miracles — Christmas!” And one that states, “May Jesus be the glorious gift your heart celebrates at Christmas.”
I know you receive many such greetings, too. Do you read the text or verse on each Christmas card or just the name at the bottom? The cards you receive have words like peace, joy, love, hope, glory, good tidings, and the like — but have you ever thought how empty those words would be without the reality of Jesus’ birth and His unselfish sacrifice?
I pray that your messages this Christmas season will be more than just Advent words, but ones packed with substance based on the reality of a living Lord without whom there will never be peace, joy, or hope.
For so many, the reason for the season is really not the reason for the season. It is more about “doing Christmas” than it is celebrating the Lord’s birth. And all too often, it’s primarily about getting and receiving gifts.
If you had to look back across the years and identify one Christmas gift that stands above all the others, what would it be? My guess is it would not be some expensive something as much as it would be a gift of special meaning — something that you treasured even though its value to another might be minimal. The fact that it was from someone who loved and honored you is what made the present meaningful.
In the Christmas story, the Magi “opened their treasures and presented him with gifts” (Matthew 2:11). My colleague, what is it that we present to our Lord as we celebrate with our families and congregations? I was thinking about that biblical phrase, “They opened their treasures.” What would that mean to you? What treasure would you offer our Lord at this Advent season? Perhaps . . .
- A renewed commitment to your call.
- Your promise of daily interaction with the Father as His child.
- A commitment to guard your heart and to flee those things that might negatively entrap you.
- A more sensitive commitment to the lost, those for whom Christ died.
- A disciplined and vigilant attitude toward a healthy lifestyle. You are a temple that must be protected.
- A realization that your spouse and your children need more attention than any others in your congregation.
- A humble spirit that will not allow envy or pride to dominate your thinking or actions.
- Loving Him back.
To me, and I hope to you, that would characterize genuine gift-giving. Your treasure becomes His gift.
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
“A Savior has been born to you” (Luke 2:11).