(this is an excerpt from a sermon I preached this past week at Grace. Click here to listen)
There were SO MANY things being given during the first Christmas. God gives revelation and favor to Mary, Mary and Joseph give their trust and obedience to God. God gives words of hope to Elizabeth and Zechariah, they give God praise and joy. Elizabeth gives Mary a place to stay and encourages her on her lonely journey to come. Joseph gives Mary his faithfulness even when it seems unfounded. God gives His son to the world in order that they might have peace with Him. The angles give God glory and praise. God gives Simeon and Anna the joy of seeing their savior, whom they’ve waited for years to see. They give God their testimony of His faithfulness, sharing with all who would listen. Mary is given treasure for her heart. There is only one material gift giving time recorded, and that gift is given to Jesus, provision in a foreign land for a poor family who are soon to flee Herod’s killing spree.
No, the gospel accounts of Christmas are FULL of giving, But what we see in the Gospels is that the gifts that are given contrast the way we give today, the way we spend today. Gifts are given vertically (from God to man and man to God) and relationally (people sharing their hearts, lives and joys, rather than horizontally and materially). We tend to give gifts to one another and the gifts that we give are gifts of things, stuff. What the people spent on the first Christmas was their hearts, their praise, their lives because God had interrupted and they received it with joy.