Originally published Sunday, 07 December 2014.
Christmas is that time of year when I mark off the calendar as "busy". It's that time of year where I continuously pull out my checkbook to “gift" and to “card". Christmas is that time of year, where parties can just leave me tired. Where people can leave me drained. Where giving can feel not so gracious.
Why? Because I feel worn. I feel tired. It's year-end and I have given and given and given myself.
It sometimes gets me feeling guilty too - like I am missing the point. And, it makes me wonder - where's Jesus amidst Christmas busy? Where's Jesus in this hustle and bustle? Does he look down on this kind of behavior?
Yet, while pondering these questions, the Lord placed the most wonderful gift in my lap - a gift of truth. And, as I held this adorned box, staring at it's meaning, I started to understand the beauty of Christmas busy. It's not all about the wrapping paper, about the bows, about the act of wrapping, but it is about the heart - a receptive heart.
And, as I open God's gift to me. The heart of the matter comes to light; I see the love of Christ. Authentic. Deep. Heartfelt love.
I admire the gift of Jesus - a gift I am called to share with others.
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)
I realize, if I can't find joy in the gift giving, I have entirely missed the gift-giver and the heart of the gift.
Because we have joy when our joy is derived from Christ. Suddenly, through the amazing gift of Christ, all we can do is give, sacrifice and love. Suddenly, all the Christmas busy isn't seen as acts of drudgery, but as acts of service, of adoration, of worship.
Christ endlessly gave - not out of obligation, but out of love. There is no greater gift than to give. We are blessed when we give. We find meaning to life when we give from a cheerful heart.
Let's let our busyness come from pure motivations not busy obligation. Because in many ways, busyness is the essence of Christmas. Busyness that relies on Christ. Busyness that feels overwhelmed but trusts God. Busyness that is fueled by the Spirit. Busyness that shines Christ. Busyness that extends grace. This is where the joy of Christmas is found.
Just as Christ served, preached and loved endlessly, we can give, host, serve and love endlessly too - through his power and strength at work within us.
Helpless we come in this world, and through the amazing gift of Christ - he helps us. He empowers us, he equips us and he calls us to his work.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- (Eph. 2:8)
Truly, the greatest gift we ever received is the one that lies in a humble manger. The one who calls us to purify our hearts. The one who can never stop handing out grace. The one who reached others tirelessly with truth.
Behold the gift of Christ, his grace and his enduring love. Let go of striving and grab hold of the ultimate gift - who lays in a manger in a town called Bethlehem.
He lays ready to be embraced and adored.
In a little town of Bethlehem, lays a baby who was never afraid to sacrifice.
In a little town of Bethlehem, lays a baby who extends grace beyond compare.
In a little town of Bethlehem, lays a baby whose power is perfected in weakness.
In that little town of Bethlehem, lays the heart of Christmas giving.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
As believers, we have a perfect gift. This perfect gift frees us through the covering of grace. And, through this gift, we can joyfully give it all.