“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
My daughter recited these words proudly this past Sunday during our church Christmas pageant. And although we’ve heard this verse thousands of times, from practicing it in our home for weeks – I find myself now reflecting deeply on this simple statement. What will they find? A child; a gift.
This time of year we often try to find ways to give back. Who can we help? This is an excellent impulse! Especially when we turn on the news and see countries in the midst of the worst kind of turmoil, war and suffering. We ought to ask that question…what can I give? What can I do?
There is something about Christmas that requires even the most irreligious people to ponder ways of how to serve others in need. Because Christmas is about giving.
But first and foremost, it’s about getting.
Before stories about the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge learning the true meaning of Christmas were written. And before the Coca-Cola, red and white suited, naughty or nice list carrying Santa Claus ever became a household icon. And before St. Nicholas of old ever began the tradition that would carry on for many centuries of giving to those in need. Before all of that – A baby lay in a manger.
Angels scared the living-day-lights out of some unexpecting shepherds by bringing them into the Spiritual realm and instructing them on where to go and who they would find. Something special was awaiting. It was the perfect, precious, prophesied-about gift they would ever attain.
And they were about to receive in the fullest. Everything they ever needed.
You see before we can ever make Christmas about giving, we must receive. Christ came for us. He came down and was wrapped in cloth for the purpose of love. For the purpose of ultimate sacrifice. For the purpose of giving a free, undeserved, all-we’ll-ever-need gift. And Christmas is about receiving it.
“We love because He first loved us.” ~ 1 John 4:19
We receive everything because of that baby. We have been given hope in a war-torn world, the joy of the Lord and peace that surpasses all understanding.
But most of all we have been given forgiveness of all the sin we inflicted on that baby in a manger. He took it all. And so although this world still brings trouble of all kinds, Christmas allows us to refocus and reflect on how much we have received.
So let’s do that. And then lets pass it on. Resist the temptation of feeling guilty for giving your children gifts this Christmas. Don’t let too many budgetary restraints keep you from giving to the needy in your community and in the world. Go ahead and give. Lets love much because he forgave much. Lets be giver’s because we know what its like to receive. And let’s make sure to make our biggest gift to others be that baby in a manger.
Because Christmas is about receiving Him…above all else.