Grace Emerges

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What's So Great About Christmas?, #2

by Brad Duncan

What's so great about Christmas?  

#2. The Gifts!  No, not (just) those kind of gifts!  Though I do love giving and getting gifts as part of our family traditions, much more I love the spiritual significance of gifts.  Presumably the tradition of gift-giving goes back to the story of the three Magi that brought gifts to the baby Messiah, and helped to fund his family's flight from Herod into Egypt.

But, even more significantly, the good news of the Messiah was closely intertwined with the concept of gifts:

  • Grace - means unmerited favor, unconditional love, and great kindness, especially given by God to people.  Grace is a word that means the gifts of God given to mankind.  It is the Good News declared by Jesus as the Messiah, the chosen messenger of God, the heavenly gift-bearer! When you celebrate Christmas with gifts, you are celebrating the gift of God to us all.
  • The Holy Spirit - Jesus launched the kingdom of God on Earth.  He left the Holy Spirit with us to continue the Incarnation for generations to come.  The presence of God is with us, guiding us, bringing about good things, showing us our God-given nature and comforting us with help and guidance.  The Holy Spirit is the gift that we experience day by day through knowing God.
  • Compassion - More generally, gifts represent gracious, compassionate love.  We give because we humans are the hands and feet of God on Earth, ready to bring about the good things that God desires.  Who will bring the daily bread, the healing medicine, and the warm clothes to the needy of the world?  Certainly God - but only through his human assistants - Us !  When we celebrate with gifts, let us celebrate the compassion that liberated us, and bring that same compassion to others.
Operation Christmas Child in action
The concepts of these gifts in the message of Jesus was in contrast to the Old Testament system of laws and sacrifices.  Today, these concepts are also in direct contrast to the budget-breaking circus we call Christmas Shopping.  Giving is a spiritual quality, and leads to Grace, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and Compassion!       Lets all consider how to celebrate these qualities through our gift-giving this year.

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