Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Have you stopped to think of our emergency service workers who have to work over the Christmas period? They don’t get holidays when everyone else does—they turn up to work. On one web page I saw with comments about Christmas, Peter said: “As a paramedic, and an atheist, I detest Christmas…to me it means trying to save the lives of kids cut out of cars, drunk young people, not to mention the people and families they kill, in the name of celebrating Christmas.”
Mike, from the US: “Speaking from America, I can say that Christmas is as big as ever. There is a spirit about it and people look forward to it all the year. The meaning of Christmas is as widely celebrated as it ever has been. The whole spirit evokes a magical sentiment in me, and that sentiment is still going strong.”
What’s the advent season really all about? Distractions; busyness; resentments; media hype. The quest for more stuff to fill our aching hearts, something to help satisfy a void deep within. Does receiving a gift really bring you lasting happiness? I don’t think so. Many presents remain unopened or left in the back of a bedroom cupboard. Overspending, overeating, materialism, and busyness rob us of our peace and joy and rob Jesus of his rightful role as the centre of our celebration.
The good news is that God sent Christ into this world not only for the select few, the rich and powerful, and those who have it all together. But Christ came also to reach the broken, the lost and the lonely, the poor, the silly, the foolish, the sinful, the hurting. Christ came to shine a light into the darkness and to offer hope and love to all people. Jesus was born, not in perfect circumstances, but into a broken world bringing grace and mercy and healing. The Wise Men in the Christmas story came with gifts to give Jesus.
There’s an old joke that goes something like this:
- What would have happened if it had been Three Wise Women instead of Three Wise Men?
- Answer: They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts!
What Gift Would You Bring to Jesus?
Author Carey Kinsolving asked some children: “If you were one of the Wise Men, what gift would you bring to Jesus?”
- One girl aged 9 said: “I would give baby Jesus some food, because they probably didn’t have a lot of money. They might have been poor, and they weren’t near a place with food.”
- Another girl said: “I would bring Jesus a baby bed, because he had to sleep on wood covered with hay.”
- Megan aged 11 said: “If I were a Wise Man, I would first consult with God and ask him what to give him.” What a profound answer. Megan makes a good point. What does Jesus want? What does he want from you? We are, after all, celebrating his birthday this month.
Jesus says (Matthew 25:40), “When you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me”. When we help the needy, the lost, and the broken we are giving to Jesus. That’s what he wants for his birthday. The Apostle John makes it clear that we are to use what we have to serve those in need. He writes in 1 John 3:17-18: “But if a person has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need and that person doesn’t care—how can the love of God remain in him? Little children, let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth.” Words are not enough, action is needed.
Christians believe that the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem as the Messiah is a gift of time, love and relationship. The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that he gave his Son to us and it also tells us that Jesus stepped into time to be with us. In other words, because Jesus came, we can know that we are loved by God and we can know that we are not alone in this thing called life.
The best gift you can give this Christmas is handing over your life to Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Confess your sin and ask him to become the living Lord—Lord of your whole being. He will do as he promises, and come into your whole being with joy and peace. It would be the best gift of all.