Good Thursday morning to all. I know we are all busy preparing for Christmas, but it is my prayer that we all have a “Mary” Christmas!
Christmas is such an exciting and special time for believers and unbelievers. One aspect of this holiday that makes it so exciting is the giving and exchanging of gifts. Even during the pandemic, family members and friends will figure out a way to give gifts to love ones.
The custom of giving and receiving gifts at Christmas, as we see in Matthew 2, reminds us of the gifts given to Jesus by the wise men. Gold was a gift of royalty. Christians believe Jesus is the King of Kings. Frankincense was a gift of deity. It is used sometimes in churches during worship. Myrrh was a spice used to anoint a body for burial.
Christians believe that it showed Jesus would suffer and die.
Christmas is really about the largest and best gift God gave the world over 2,000 years ago-Jesus.
John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
I am sure some of us can probably remember when Christmas was exciting and joyful even with the simple things like an evergreen tree chopped down in the woods. Even the gifts were simple because that was all our parents could afford. The gifts were sometimes items that were needed for school like clothes, notebooks, writing paper, pencils, etc., but what made the gifts so rewarding was the fact that they were new. Sometimes the gifts were accompanied with confectionery, (old fashion candies, fruits, nuts, etc.), which made the day even more special.
Regardless of the gifts given and exchanged, it became an epic holiday during the year. We knew that it was going to be a time of feasting, fellow shipping and having fun with family. Even though the pandemic has placed a damper on the giving and exchanging of gifts in person, we are still able to do so in a safe manner via Amazon, UPS, FedEx, etc. What will be missed to a certain degree will be the touching and personal contact with family.
My siblings and I never gave too much attention to Santa Claus because he was usually portrayed as this fat white man in a red and white suit. Matter of fact, some of us were afraid of this bearded Saint Nick. It was all just too good to be true. Jolly Saint Nick was going to come down the chimney with a fire in it and leave us what we wanted. God was so good to us then and remains good today, for He always supplies and meets our needs.
For years, the Slade family looked forward to gathering at sibling’s home on Christmas day for family dinner and the exchange of gifts. It was probably one of the happiest times for many of the family members. The time for gift exchange became the highlight of the day. If a gift was not received well by a family member, it became a time of taunting and laughter. Sometimes feelings would get hurt, but not for long because shortly thereafter, everyone was back to enjoying each other’s company. Oh, it was a great time, one that I look forward to experiencing in the future. The pandemic for the last two years has caused us to put a hold on the exchange of gifts. There is no fun like family fun at Christmas.
Parents get great joy out of witnessing their children opening gifts on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, there will be many children and families who will not be able to exchange or receive a gift. It is my hope and prayer that we have done something over the last twelve months to help meet the needs of those who are marginalized or a victim of homelessness.
Christians today still give gifts to family members, friends and the underprivileged as a way of remembering the three wise men honoring the Christ child. So often we overlook those who are less fortunate that we, but I am a firm believer that when we bless others, God blesses us abundantly. “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38 ESV)
It appears that the pandemic has caused many Americans to change their attitude about giving gifts. The attitude of going out and buying gifts for the entire extended family may be over. Just maybe scaling back will help some families cut back on credit card use and debt.
There are special people in our lives and giving them a gift at Christmas simply says, “I love and care about you!” It is not so much the gift as it is the principle.
Just maybe the pandemic will cause us to focus more on the one who hung on the tree than what is under the tree.
Not a sermon, just my thoughts!
Robert Earl Slade, Pastor