Christmas Brings Fresh Ways of Giving

GiftThe grumpy voices trying to cancel all celebrations of the Christmas story don’t seem to be speaking against the widespread practice of gift-giving itself. As a result, all around the world, the Christmas season is marked unhindered by the generous flow of gifts.

So, from before the time the leaves change color, inveterate shoppers watch store displays, posted ads, and internet offerings for gift ideas. Many bargain hunters hit the malls early on Black Friday, and last-minute shoppers search feverishly in picked-over displays for the right size or color.

The result of all this is that gifts of all shapes and sizes will materialize for Christmas. They’ll be heaped at the base of Christmas trees, left at the door by delivery services and pulled from hiding places to surprise and excite family members young and old.

But there are other kinds of gifts that could bring great joy to the receivers: phone calls to nieces or nephews, or aunts or uncles, or friends who don’t often hear from us; a note to an elderly relative who lives at a distance; a card of goodwill where relationships are strained; homemade cookies to a neighbor or friend.

I recall a special Christmas long ago before our children had reached adolescence. My wife made batches of cookies and the children and I delivered them neatly boxed to the homes of several shut-ins. The children’s eyes sparkled as they gave and the recipients received with joy.

It’s the pleasure of the unexpected that often makes a gift stand out. When the first ballpoint pens appeared and were not yet even on sale, my older brother, a merchant, received one as a sample to encourage him to order some to sell.

The box had $13 printed on it, a huge price for the late 1930s, and he gave it to me as a Christmas gift. Never mind that the technology was not yet refined and the lines it drew were sketchy. It could not honestly be called a fine writing instrument, but I hadn’t expected it and I received it as a treasure.

Whatever our techniques for celebrating the season by the exchange of gifts, we hope not to become so caught up in our gift-giving strategies that we forget to whom we give first honors. It is God, the “giver of every good and perfect gift,” and in a special way, the Son of his love who entered our sphere of existence as the Father’s finest offering.

For us to lose sight of that core fact would be like our going to a birthday party and entering heartily into the celebrations with friends while the person whose birthday we were gathered to celebrate sits quietly and unnoticed in the corner.

Christmas is a good season to remember Christina Rossetti’s lovely words:

“What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a wise man, I would do my part;

Yet what can I give him —

Give my heart.”


Photo credit: ahenobarbus (via

Bookmark and Share


One thought on “Christmas Brings Fresh Ways of Giving

  1. I’ve been thinking about Advent as Christmas ,when everybody is busy shopping for gifts to give,in a spirit of good will , to honour our Saviour’s birth .I like to feel each season of the church year as we live through it , carefully tring to grasp it’s full significance.

    Hallowmass ,when we remember the faithful departed, is past.All Hallows Eve ,All Saints Day then All Souls Day came and went..

    Then came Kingdomtide,the end of the church year when we celebrate Christ’s kingship,culminating in the Fest of Christ The King. The church year started again with the first days of Adventtide.

    Advent seems like a shorter Lententide ,not so solemn a time of sackcloth and ashes and repentance ,but still a time of great darkness.A time of judgement when we look for the coming of the light ,waiting ,as at Lent, for Emmanuel.Waiting for the birth of Jesus to bring a light in our darkness.

    To get to church, I have to walk through the centre of my city. of Coventry,UK.Last weekend ,walking to one Advent Lords Supper ,I noticed twice as many shoppers ,all buying gifts for others and I thought of Epiphany ,when the Magi brought gifts to the Messiah.

    Gold for a King ,the King we celebrated at Kindomtide and Christ the King…Frankincense for a Pastor,healing and teaching. .Myrrh,recalling death and the season of Hallowmas .Myrrh for a Saviour , born to pay our sin debt on Calvary.

    All the recent and imminent seasons of the church year came to mind,arrayed – Hallowmas,Kingdomtide,Adventide ,Christmastide and Epiphany Even .Passiontide and Eastertide too were brought to mind , pointed to by the coming birth and what it means

    The Salvation Army were playing Christmas carols on my way to church and I felt Christmas coming.

    Last Saturday we remembered Lucy of Syracuse at our church .Advent is when we remember her. Lucy was a Christian whose name implies Light . God’s light shone in her. She was executed for giving her money to the poor and worshiping God ,refusing to worship Roman Empero Diocletian Lucy’s gifts to the poor,one reason she was persecuted, presented another image of gift giving.

    The lesson , from 2 Corinthians 4 , reflected light in our darkness .

    ‘’. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

    But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.’’

    The gospel lesson too was about Light. ,At this time of year ,the days lengthen and light diminishes physically,So spiritually ,Advent is a time of longing when we yearn for the Light of Christ .Jesus is coming ,a Light to banish our darkness and end death itself..

    Come Emmanuel the carols sing ,just as in Lent we say come Emmanuel.
    Jesus is the Word and the Light. In Advent we wait for the Word to be born ,a Light to shine in our darkness.

    Everywhere people are remembering the true reason for Christmas.I hear peple say it’s Christmas not Happy Holidays and that Jesus is the reason for the season.

    Deeper than all the material gifts this Christmas, with those frenzied shopping scrums on Black Friday , are the spiritual gifts that some will give.

    As you remind us ,Pastor,a phone call to a distant friend or relative,an isolated or a lonely person remembered, love given – these are gifts which shine with brought light.These gifts are truly in keeping with the season.Gifts which bring light in darkness,reflect Christ’s birth a light in our darkness.

    Folk say it’s the thought that counts in a gift.It is.What’s really being given is love.The heart of the Christmas message,of Jesus’ birth, is God, so full of love for us gave His pure innocent son , in human form ,to pay our debt by His death. True love!

    Love is the best Christmas gift Give the heart..Give love .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s