When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
We celebrate Christmas with traditions and rituals. We sing carols and hymns, decorate trees with tinsel and decorations, gather together for a shared meal and give each other gifts. It is a time of great joy, and it reminds me of the Magi who in the words of Matthew’s Gospel “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy”. Let us finish this Covid year ‘rejoicing with great joy’. Let this year finish with the hope, joy, peace and love of receiving God’s gift which we cannot, and should not, refuse. A gift of salvation which comes in the form of a tiny baby. A gift which comes to us in all the mess of a stable’s life, and chooses to be Emmanuel, God with us. Amen, Amen, Amen.
If you are feeling that everything is not perfect in your house or household, If you worry you are not ‘ready’ for Christmas, or you haven’t (or can’t) find perfect gift, I have Good News: Emmanuel will come. ‘God with us’ despite our worries and fears, birthed into the messiness of this Covid year; God made flesh in the midst of our fears and uncertainty.
One of our Christmas traditions is giving gifts. It is a tradition I enjoy very much. Throughout the world countless Christmas wish lists have been created over the years, and numerous prayers have been answered. People travel great distances to be together at Christmas to celebrate family, joy and new hope. Coming together expresses a Spirit of sharing, loving and giving. We celebrate God’s forgiveness of humanity sins and God’s gift of a future new and abundant life. When we model God’s great love expressed in John 3:16 For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life, we give and we give and we give, and no matter how much we give, we can never out-give God.
We model God’s forgiveness when we gather at Christmas not looking to the troubles of the past, but looking forward to a future filled with hope.
We model extravagant expressions of love when we give gifts, like the wise men who lavish expensive gifts of gold, and frankincense and myrrh to Jesus.
James 1:17 (a)
Every generous act of giving and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father who made the heavenly lights
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
Christmas is a sacred time. Where heaven and earth touch and where God’s gift to the world is born. God has given the greatest gift of all, and the measure God has given to us is pressed down, shaken together and running over into our lives. The overflow of the gift of new life God has given us flows out into the Christmas season every year.
Ironically the politics of gift giving has stolen from the generous nature of God’s great gift. The sacred Christmas spirit has been hijacked by the commercial world, creating a break between heaven and earth. All of a sudden everything is quantified and measured, where exchanging gifts of equal value ‘protects’ us from feeling guilty. Gifts are not given out of generous, lavish love, but out of obligation, and extravagant gift giving has become something we are to be ashamed. The secular Christmas is where we give in order to receive. God’s way is less calculated and more emotive.
Apostle Paul says it well in 2Cor 9:6-8
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
(Skip to verse 11)
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
Over the years Metro Church has been enriched by the love of God and by the generosity of cheerful givers. During this very difficult year of economic hardships and a health pandemic we have had an overflow of love into the Metro Church in so many ways. We have been enriched in every way to be generous, and our generous response to the people around us is our Thanksgiving to God. Throughout the national lockdown we have supported our Metro family emotionally and spiritually. We have provided basic financial assistance to over forty families, and now as we are in the Christmas season we have packed and will distribute over 150 to 170 Christmas bags of goodies.
Today as a generous and lavish expression of love we have gifts for ‘our kids’.
This is Metro’s thanksgiving to God, the overflow of our hearts and our expression of worship to Jesus our infant King. Receive the love of Jesus through the community God has placed together as family. I think the Metro Children should say Thank-You Jesus, because all good gifts comes from God above who made the heavens and the earth.
And the adults here today should also say ‘thank you Jesus’. Today it is our Metro Kids who put together this worship service. It is their gift to us, and it is wonderful to be part of worship designed and run by the children.