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THE GREATEST GIFT EVER GIVEN: CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS

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THE GREATEST GIFT EVER GIVEN:

CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS

Part II of the series: Christmas Time, the Gift Giving Season


We introduced the gift giving theme early in the Christmas season with a piece on St. Nicholas, whose feast we celebrated on December 6th, and whose reputation eventually became the persona we call “Santa Claus”.

Three main feasts during the holiday season represent this theme. The second feast, chronologically, is Christmas Day, itself—which is, of course, our major focus: the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth to save and deliver us.

Later, and lastly, we will take a look at the Epiphany—the feast of the Three Kings—which we remember on January 6th, or a liturgical date that is close to that traditional calendar date. This season it is January 5th, 2019. Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season, and is sometimes called “The 12th Day of Christmas”.


CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS:

SO GREAT A LOVE LOVE!

The greatest and most generous gift ever given was… planned long, long ago. It was lavishly provided to needy, wayward children (that includes us)—humbly and quietly in a manger in Bethlehem. The plan began in response to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, when their rejection of God’s gracious love, care and protection brought both physical and spiritual death into the world.

The Giver of this enormous Gift was the Almighty God—Love, Himself, Who did not withhold from us His only, precious Son—Jesus Christ. St. Nicholas—a.k.a.“Santa Claus”—gave in the same spirit of giving that God the Father gave… He gave humbly and quietly.

So, amazingly the First, Foremost, and most original Giver—the Father, Himself, keeps on giving… We don’t often think of God the Father as “humble”, but how very true that description is! He keeps on helping and intervening—often unseen, unrealized—giving gladly, and most often without receiving recognition, thanks, praise or glory…

The apostle, John, later wrote:

“We love, because [H]e first loved us”… (1 John 4:19).

And in the book of the apostle James we find:

“All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights… “ [James 1:17] Every good thing starts with the Father’s love and becomes available to us through the Gift He gave us… and gifts that He keeps giving us… Although many of us quite often assume that “good” things come our way outside of God’s hand or generosity or grace, our most humble God forgives our blindness, self-sufficiency, ignorance and even arrogance.

God the Father becomes the loving model of gift giving. No wonder gift-giving customs grew up around Christmas!


THE CHRISTMAS STORY: THE LONG AWAITED SAVIOR

Four hundred years after God had last spoken publicly through His prophets to His beloved (but unfaithful) children on earth, this baby boy was born in a small town in Israel.

We now quote four paragraphs from our last blog entitled: GAUDETE SUNDAY: Advent's Time to Rejoice, (posted this month on December 14th, 2018, on trintiychurhsupply/blog):

“God sent an angel to speak to--not another prophet, but----- a young woman. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and her “Yes”, the true and living Word became flesh and willingly came to earth to live and die among us.

Notably, God’s first contact after all those years was not at the temple, and not with the community religious leaders... God sent an angel to a humble young woman named “Mary”, in the small town of Nazareth—in Galilee, not in Judea, where Jerusalem was located. In her He found a listening ear and an obedient heart. We know that her willing "Be it done unto me according to Your word..." answered God's call for the Son of God to make His meek and quiet entrance into our needy world.

We find out in scripture that His people were not expecting a baby—much less “God”, the Son of God—born unobtrusively in a stable in the small town of Bethlehem.

Our most humble and gracious God—so willing to do whatever it takes to enter our failing, fallen and confused world—chose the messy surroundings of a crowded stable, to be born among animals and strangers. His death would later be in even more extremely ‘messy’ and unpleasant circumstances—this time, handed over to enemies and strangers.”

This helpless baby born under such uncomfortable circumstances did not come to live a random life. God the Father knowingly sent His Son to live through the difficulties of life in this world--through more of what God's foe could throw in His path than what is known or imagined or written--purposefully facing a sacrificial death, dying in our place... personally for each one of us... Rising in victory for all of us. 

We now celebrate “Christmas” on the designated day—December 25th—as the day the Savior-child Jesus was born, and given so kindly to us.

Most of us have heard the story before… some of us, many times before. It is best described in Luke, chapter 2… How Joseph and his pregnant, betrothed bride traveled to Bethlehem (their town of family origin) as part of a census decreed by Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor. In that busy little town their son was born—and laid in a manger, outside the overcrowded inn. The King of kings received limited fan-fare:

Heaven’s angels appeared amid great light in that dark night, with the glory of the Lord shining all around them.


The news came to several quite surprised and humble listeners…There were shepherds watching over their flocks that night in nearby fields. They were the ones chosen to hear this phenomenal news from the brightly lit skies—“good news of great joy that will be for all peoples… a savior born for you who is Messiah and Lord.” When the angels left, they found that baby, lying in the manger….


So… What about this baby… this “Gift”? How do we receive it… unwrap it?

This Gift God gives us is a Person Who gently calls our name. Then, He waits for us to invite Him into our hearts, our homes, and our lives. He’s an all-year, every need, every season “Gift”… that never wears out, that we never outgrow, that fits every size. He is a Gift inconceivably larger than all of creation, yet gently… considerately… humbly… small enough to dwell comfortably in our not-so-perfect hearts—hearts that may be as messy as that stable in Bethlehem!


NOW... WHAT ABOUT US?

Here we are... in the midst of anticipating the holidays—often busy, busy planning and buying and making gifts to give. That can be both kind and generous, and it’s fun—at least, it was meant to be...

It's great to enjoy and welcome and love theChristmas symbols—lights, candles, evergreens, music, wreaths, gifts—but do we stop there? ... or go beyond, and let the fires on the candles warm our hearts … and let the light penetrate our eyes and souls… and let the “ever-greens” enliven the everlasting in us? Do we listen to the words of some of our beloved Christmas carols, and let the sweet appreciation of that Greatest Gift—expressed in music—speak to us throughout the season?

Some of us are a-flurry with many passionate thoughts about “gracious” entertaining, and gracious giving. But…

Do we ever give much thought to “gracious receiving” from our Father… receiving His gift? How about graciously entertaining—let’s say, inviting a perennial guest into our hearts—the Greatest Gift ever given? How about finally, gladly, passionately… receiving… this Gift, already given… Who patiently continues “knocking” at the door of our hearts? As much as we have heard the Christmas story—seriously—have we truly received that First (and greatest) Christ-mas Gift? …Into the depths of our hearts? …Into our lives… our homes?

The original Gift of Christmas is, literally, the “Wonderful-Counselor, God-Hero… Prince of Peace” that the prophet Isaiah spoke of [in Isa.9:5b]. And He is still ALIVE… still living and growing within us, as we let Him—and more everlasting than the greenest “evergreen”! He’s more than we can ask or think… believe or imagine. He has a “heaven” of gifts and blessings to give—much more than a sleigh that comes through the sky could ever carry! So-o-o—when He comes knocking on the door of our hearts this season…

How do we keep from repeating the answer of the innkeepers in Bethlehem that night: “Sorry! We’re already over-crowded …There’s just no room left... here…”?

We make new choices every day we live. Sometimes we don’t even think about them. Let’s be just a little more deliberate this year.

Let’s enjoy giving! Let’s give wisely, thoughtfully… And let’s think about adding to our Christmas list this year… add new ways to receive the Lord into our lives. We can start small—like Jesus did, as a tiny baby. First, (when conceived), He was as little as the dot at the end of this sentence. Then He breathed his first breath as a helpless, crying newborn. Then He grew… And so can we… Our generous God and Father does not despise small beginnings… 



What remains?

Simply to begin… to receive Him deliberately into our hearts and fully into each and every nook and cranny of our lives... and to remember that He is coming again--as King of... everything... King of kings and Lord of lords, manifested in all His glory.

We are exhorted to look forward and “watch for” His coming in glory... "soon"**, according to Revelation 22:20. We are also called to remember not to lose hope... not to disregard our watchful perspective... even if His coming seems "delayed". The waiting of "not now" may seem like "never"--which a small child feels when Christmas seems delayed. But we--though childlike in some good and open ways-- as steadfast believers, can hold fast, by grace, to our hope in His coming.

We are asked, by Jesus Himself, to keep our "oil lamps" full (of Holy Spirit oil) and not fall asleep... For we do not know the day nor the hour when He comes. (**And, yes, I often wonder and discuss with the Lord His definition of the word "soon" vs. our definition and human perception.)


The season is hastening along. Advent is well on its way to a close. But there is yet one other “gift-giving” feast day coming… Later, we will take another look at gift-giving through the story of the Three Wise Men.


CHECK OUT THE REST OF OUR BLOGS FOR THE CHRISTMAS SEASON (posted on this website, trinitychurchsupply.com/blog)

~~JOY ON GAUDETE SUNDAY, posted December 14, 2018

~~ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS, posted December 11th, 2018


OUR SERIES: CHRISTMASTIME: THE GIFT-GIVING SEASON

~~ST NICHOLAS, THE ORIGINAL AND REAL SANTA, Part I of our series, posted on December 6th, 2018...

~~CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS: THE GREATEST GIFT EVER GIVEN, posted above

and the upcoming Part III of our series:

~~FEAST OF THE THREE KINGS—EPIPHANY


This article has been adapted through the years from our blogs in 2014 , 2015 and 2017, and from the one posted on December 7th, 2016, under the title, GIFT-GIVING AT CHRISTMASTIME, FEATURING ST. NICHOLAS, on this website, trinitychurchsupply.com/blog


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