What was your gift this Christmas?
It's the day after Christmas. The wrapping papers and boxes are all in the garbage bin. The presents have been received and explored, that is except for the more complex electronic devices which may never be full understood. A consumer calm has descended after the manic buying spree, although for some that calm will not come until the seasonal sales are over.
For some it is a time when the financial cost of that buying spree hits home and the joy experienced at yesterday's gift opening is replaced by the gloom of credit card debt. However, there are some positive aspects to this commercialization of Christmas. The surge in sales required extra staff and extra hours which provided extra income to the workers who needed it. The vast amount of goods bought provided work and income over the preceding months to those employed in the supply chain. The profit generated ensures sound financial foundations for companies as they move on into the coming year.
All of which tells me that somewhere along the line we have missed the point. Not the obvious point that Santa has replaced Jesus; that we have taken the Christ out of Christmas. No, the other point lost is about the giving of gifts. We say that it is a tradition reflecting the giving of gifts by the Magi, the three wise men. They brought gold, incense and myrrh to the Christ child and so we give each other gifts today.
But, did the shepherds get gifts? Did Mary and Joseph? Did the three wise men? No! It was Jesus who got the gifts. Those gifts represented the wealth of the world, the esteem and honor due to the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the divine Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. The recipient is Jesus not us.
If we truly want to follow tradition at Christmas we should be giving our greatest treasure to Jesus. For us self-centered human beings of today nothing has more value than ourselves. In the New Testament, the book of Romans chapter 12 verse 1 tells us to 'offer ourselves daily as a living sacrifice'. With that comes the understanding that the sacrifice has no say in how it is to be used. It requires a total surrender of us to Jesus, for our lives to be God centered not self-centered.
That is the gift we are asked to bring to Jesus, not only at Christmas but every day of the year. The wonderful thing is that if we choose to offer that gift and when it is accepted we get a greater gift in return. We receive the gift of eternal life and the assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us. With that comes peace and joy and a life free from stress and strain. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
So back to the question - What was your gift this Christmas? Was it a gift you received, the latest electronic gadget that will be obsolete next year? Or was it a gift you gave - yourself through which you received a gift greater than any that money can buy?
You know its not too late. He is ready to receive your gift any day of the year. Why not make it today so that your joy may be full?