Everyone is aware that this year is a little tight financially for many people. It’s got people to thinking about Christmas, gift giving and what’s really important. I think this is a good thing. Everyone loves gifts, of course; most people love giving nice ones as well. But is this really what makes people love Christmas so much? I don’t think so.
There are a lot of things we do at Christmas time. Giving gifts is one thing. Singing carols, baking cookies, making candy, and visiting family are some more. Also, decorating and shopping and going to parties and feasting together. But these are still not what we love about Christmas. These are things we do to celebrate what we love; tokens we give each other to celebrate what was given to us.
Because the Gift has already been given! Christmas, as Linus tells it so famously in A Charlie Brown Christmas, and as the Bible even more famously proclaims, is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord. “And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord.’ ” (Luke 2:10,11). He already came; He already walked among us, brought us Hope, and then died for our sins and rose again! Everything that gives us so much joy in the celebration of Christmas ever since that Holy Night is because of Him; the general happiness, giving spirits and soft hearts we feel at this time of year especially. Of course, some people will point out that we don’t know for sure that Jesus was born on December 25th. It is true that we don’t know the day He was born. But we do know that He was born, and this is why we celebrate.
Gifts are an integral part of the celebration of Christmas. God gave us the greatest Gift of all time, One that brought peace on earth and to men’s hearts. The Wise Men brought gifts to the Christ Child. And we give gifts to one another in honor of His birth; we give ourselves to Him also. So for Christians, what is really important? The cost of the gift we give? The amount of people we give gifts to? The gifts we receive? Or the fact that we are remembering the Gift God gave us in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ; the fact that we offer ourselves back to Him Who made us in the first place? “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
This year is a great opportunity to remember what it is you are really celebrating at Christmas time. It is easy to get caught up in everything you think you have to do and not even enjoy Christmas anymore. But it doesn’t have to be that way. God already gave us everything we need to celebrate. A Baby in a manger. Peace in our hearts. Hope for eternity. The Gift has already been given. What more could we possibly need?