Christmas is both the greatest and the worst time for people to hear the gospel. It’s the greatest because the gospel is a message of love. At Christmas we see just how much God loves us; He came into our world to live as a one of us, to teach us how to love as He loves. St. Athanasius, a champion of the Orthodox Christian faith in the 4th century against the Arian heresy ( a teaching that denied the divine, eternal nature of Jesus) said, “He became what we are that we might become what he is.”
Christmas, is a time to show how much we love each other. But sadly, it is the worst time for people to see the gospel as well. In far too many places in our culture, Christmas has become nothing more than a commercial vehicle to feed our rampant consumerism; little thought is given to the Christ child who began it all, with the greatest gift of all, Himself.
In the gospel this week, the man who gave the banquet is a metaphor for God our Father. The banquet He gave was to gather us around His table for pure fellowship and true love. In the ancient Eastern world in which the Bible was written, to eat with someone was a sign of ultimate acceptance and friendship. Yet, those who were invited cared more for the affairs of their everyday lives, than for the opportunity for fellowship with God.
Every time we put the material aspect of giving and receiving gifts ahead of the true meaning for which they should be exchanged, we do the same. When we don’t take time to realize each gift we give and receive is to remind us of a re-presenting of the greatest gift ever given, then we too are like the people in the gospel story who turned down the gift of the banquet.
A gift given in love does not need to be expensive to be precious, yet God showed His immeasurable love by giving the most expensive gift He could – Himself. When love is the motivation for giving our gifts, and gratitude is the heart with which we receive them, we share the true spirit of Christmas. But, when gifts are given to impress, or even worse to buy affection, then Christmas is void of meaning; it becomes the worst time for people to hear the gospel. The true gospel is never seen through selfishness.
Christmas Day is one week from today. There’s still time to discover its true meaning in your heart. We began the week with the thought, “It’s Party Time!” Perhaps you had a few parties this week, and now it’s time to start wrapping presents. As you wrap a package, put your love inside it also, and then give it with an embrace that says, “Here is a little something to show you how much Jesus loves you, and so do I.” And, if by chance someone reading this has no where, and no one to spend Christmas with, know that you’re invited to the greatest Christmas party ever given, and your gift is the greatest gift of all…Jesus loves you!
…and so do I.
Grace & Peace,
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”