“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” - John 3:16
The days before Christmas are filled with many things. There’s decorating, baking cookies and the traditional Christmas foods, and going to Christmas concerts and parties. Along with all of those activities, time and attention go into buying (or possibly making) gifts for others. Gift giving is a significant part of the season. From Black Friday on we are bombarded with commercials and sales encouraging us to buy gifts for others. In fact, according to Pastor Rick Warren, during this time of year the word ‘gift’ is heard more than the words “merry,” “tree,” “Santa,” or even “Jesus.”
Gifts become a central focus both for children who make wish lists and visit Santa and for adults who are searching for gifts for those they are grateful for as well as finding just the right gift for loved ones. Many individuals and families will also look for opportunities to give to those in need.
This gift giving is nothing new. The Bible and the early Christian church lift up stories that we claim as a source for our own gift giving. Within the Biblical Christmas Story it is the Wise Men who first brought gifts to the baby Jesus. The church also honors the life of Saint Nicholas who is believed to have brought gifts to children. These gifts helped meet people’s needs and were given anonymously. While we site stories like these as the origins of gift giving at Christmas, the true origin of gift giving begins with God: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16).
Christmas is about generosity – God’s generosity. Everything in our lives, including our very lives, is a gift of God’s generosity. The air we breathe, the creation around us, the people in our lives are all gifts from God. And Christmas gives us an opportunity to celebrate the greatest gift, the most important act of generosity – the gift of God’s Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God loves, and therefore God gives. On that very first Christmas, God gave us (and the whole world) the gift of His Son. It is through this gift of Jesus that we have the gifts of God with us forever and ever, as well as the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation.
Because God first gave to us, we give. Because God is generous and gives to us what we need, we can be generous and remember those we love and those in need. Whether we are shopping or donating, wrapping or opening gifts, let us use this time to pause and give thanks for God’s generous gift of Jesus and the opportunities we have for generosity.
Lord God, let this time of gift giving remind us of the greatest gift of all, your presence to us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Let our gift giving be a way of sharing your love with others. Amen.