The Gift of Christmas


The word “Christmas” brings back fond boyhood memories of being with family, going to midnight mass and the joyful expectation of opening presents under the tree when we got home. If one word could be used to describe Christmas, it would be “gifts.” We feel joy when someone we love accepts our gift; we feel gratitude when we receive them.

Gifts can tell a lot about the giver: thoughtful, generous, loving. Gifts are one of the best ways to say: “I love you or “I care.” A true gift is the expression of the heart and not our success.

I learned a lesson one year about giving when I was just finished school, broke and living in Toronto. Home was in New Brunswick and I could not afford to get there for Christmas. My family offered to pay my way, but because I had nothing to bring, nothing to give, I almost declined.

It took swallowing my pride when I finally decided I would go. What I learned was that it wasn’t my “presents” that were wanted, it was my “presence” that was desired. That was one of the most meaningful times I had with my family because I understood their love for me was not based on what I could give but who I was — their brother.

God has placed immense value on who we are. If the personal cost indicates the degree of love the giver has toward the receiver, then consider this: “For God so loved the world (you and me), that He gave His only begotten Son (the Lord Jesus Christ), that whoever believes in Him (put their trust in Him) should not perish (judged and condemned), but have eternal life (peace and joy forever).” (John 3:16)

God’s love for us is not based on what we can do for Him but on who we are: His creation. Isn’t it wonderful to know we are loved for who we are and not for what we can do? For a good person or close family member we may be willing to die. But what about a thief? Or a murderer? Or a child molester?

I don’t think we would be willing to give our life for one of those. But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners (enemies of God), Christ died for us. That is love, with no guaranteed return on investment.

All of us have sinned in one way or another. The bad news is this: “For the wages of sin is death.” The good news is this: “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Christmas is all about Jesus. It’s about what God has done for us, His love for us, and His gift of Jesus to save us from ourselves. It’s about love and truth: “For unto us a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) “And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

What would stop us from receiving the greatest gift of love God has given to man, the Lord Jesus Christ? Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Mark O’Keefe

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