Christmas Carol 12-24-18

Keeping Christmas is exciting. Christmas – the celebration of Christ – is a celebration of the transformational presence of God. John writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1,14a). God literally moved into our neighborhood. The Christ-child, born in a stable, is God who brought to the world, to you and me, hope and the offer of new life through radical transformation.

There is a scene in Dickens, A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge realizes he can change…he can be changed…he has been given a new chance and a new life with a preferable future. Dickens wrote his story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean-spirited man, to show how the power of Christ offers new life and can radically transform our lives, as well as, use the transformed to bring significant change to the world. This is the story of Christmas. Christmas is a celebration of Christ who makes this offer of new life to each and every one of us.

Christmas, literally means, the celebration of Christ. How are we to celebrate? I would propose, by exchanging gifts with God. After all, it has been said, “Christmas is the time for giving” and I would add “receiving.”  Giving is the act of turning over the possession or control of something to someone without cost. Receiving is the act of taking or getting something.

The gift God offers us is new life and radical transformation through His son Jesus Christ. We read: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That is why Christmas is the celebration of Christ. Christmas is the celebration of a gift offered to us by God. God Who dwelt among us. Jesus came that people may have new life in Him that is meaningful, purposeful, joyful, and eternal. We receive this abundant new life the moment we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. The gift of God is real power, peace, and His presence in all of life throughout eternity. In a world filled with heartache and pain, God offers peace and power. Now that is a gift. That is a reason to celebrate.

What gift can we offer God? How do we exchange gifts with God? Many have tried with much exhaustion and frustration. They have offered their hobbies, money, even good works, but when everything is said and done, it is neither the things we possess nor the things we can do that God desires. It is our whole self. Only when we give all of what we know of ourselves to what we know of God is He our true foundation and our walk with Him characterized by love. This is the gift we can give God. We can give Him ourselves. Mindy Caliguire in her book Discovering Soul Care writes: “Full devotion is that state of your heart where your understanding of truth is equal to your level of surrender.” What better gift could we give God then our very selves?

There is no better way to keep Christmas – to celebration Christ – than to receive His loving gift of salvation (abundant, and new life) and our giving Him the gift of our very self. Just like in A Christmas Carol we too have been offered a fantastic opportunity. We have been given a chance to do life differently…to be transformed by the love and power of Christ.  Let’s receive and live new lives in the One the angels proclaimed:

“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:12-14)!

We keep Christmas – we celebrate Christ – Who left His neighborhood to move into our neighborhood, dying on the cross for our sins, being resurrected for our salvation. The good news is that all we need to do to experience new life in Him is to receive Him and be transformed as we offer our whole selves to Him. What a wonderful gift! That is a gift worth receiving and a carol worth singing!!!

I pray this Christmas finds each of you richly embracing God’s gift of new life as you joyfully give yourself to Him. As we celebrate Christ and this blessed gift I hope you have a very merry Christmas. May we be immersed in the grace and love of Christ, sharing His message and love with others. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!

Be blessed and bless others.