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Who gives what to whom at Christmas?

December 18, 2010 3 Comments

by Don Schiemann
Recently a television news show featured some unique Christmas gift ideas. One gift was a particular model of Jaguar, of which the automobile company makes only 250 a year. If you care to order one, go to your Jaguar dealer and put down an $80,000 deposit. Then when the automobile arrives, you’ll have to pay a $507,000 balance. Of course there are cheaper gifts: an $18,000 Frisbee, a $10,000 yo-yo, a $12,000 mousetrap, a $27,000 pair of sunglasses. And for the proud grandparent who wonders what to buy the new grandchild, how about a $28,000 soother?

It’s amazing that people would spend this kind of money. But then, we have all probably done our share of overspending at Christmas. This is the time of year retailers make the majority of their profits. On Boxing Day, it’s been suggested, all the retailers at West Edmonton Mall gather around their cash registers and sing “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.”

It’s easy to lose sight of what Christmas is all about; to become distracted by everything going on around us—lights, gifts, family gatherings, feasting and so on. Even some of the admirable charitable endeavours which encourage giving at this time of year focus on helping people so you can feel better about yourself.

The message of Christmas is indeed about giving, but it’s not about giving expensive gifts. It’s not even about charitable giving to the needy (although this is good and honourable). Christmas is about God giving Himself for us and to us.

Everything wrong in this world and everything wrong in our lives is the result of sin—the sin of others and our own personal sin. As much as we try to break free of it, the fact is our very nature is sinful, and so the wreckage of our world is also the wreckage of our lives, and works to prevent any kind of relationship with God. The wreckage of sin and death we see around us exists because we live under God’s holy and perfect law and—because of our sinful nature we cannot keep it.

The wreckage of sin and death always works to get in the way of hope and peace in Jesus. Long ago, however, God made a promise to our first parents in the form of a curse against Satan. He promised, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall crush your head and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). So at the right time and in the right place, God sent His Son, “Born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law…” (Galatians 4:4).

What a gift God gives us! He comes to earth as a baby—to be one of us. He lives a holy life on our behalf and dies in our place under the law. He rises from the dead and defeats death. He sends His Holy Spirit to create faith in our hearts, and through faith we receive new life and eternal life with Him.

Christ came into this world for you. Christ is God’s gift of Himself for you. He came that you might be forgiven, adopted into the family of God and made His child forever. Through faith we receive the precious gift of Jesus, the Saviour. “For He says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NKJV). Read the words of this much-loved Christmas carol reminding us of God’s love at Christmas:

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Rev. Don Schiemann is president of Lutheran Church–Canada’s Alberta British Columbia District.

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