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Categorized | From the Pulpit


by Pastor Dick Nichols, Cedar Creek Community Church, 2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

If you are reading this article, then you have made it through what Charles Dickens would call “it was the best of times, the worst of times…” Not that the season advent should in any way be identified with the worst of times. One thing most of us can agree on is that Christmas is a time of giving.  

There is no better time than now to consider how blessed humankind is that giving is characteristic of God, and the greatest gift that could ever be given; a gift promised from the beginning and fulfilled in the first century AD. Scripture tells us “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,” (Galatians 4:4 King James version). A time that Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 KJV).

Throughout history, God has shown his extravagant desire to give grace and faith, the greatest being what we celebrate at Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, who brings the promise of hope, peace, joy and love. But why don’t we see more evidence of these in a world that is suffocating in bad news? Why don’t we hear more good news?   Maybe you’ve wondered some of the same things.  

I have been allowing my thoughts to consider how much of the billions of gifts given and received just might be identified by the recipient as being in the category of what was he or she thinking?  This is one of the main reasons that this new season has morphed into our culture: the season of re-gifting.  Statistics show that this has become more than just an occasional time for a few people; it’s a celebration of its own.   

There was a time when returning a gift to the place of purchase and re-gifting were done quite secretly, with just a smear of guilt because it seemed so inconsiderate to reject something that someone has put thought and expense into purchasing. Now, according to polls, more than 40 percent of Americans own up to having returned or regifted in the last two years, a trend that will only increase with time.  

As Christians, we are known to have a history of murmuring that “Christmas isn’t like it used to be,” or some other phrase we may have learned, like “people have forgotten the Reason for the season.”  Now, today is the time to start working toward the next celebration of Christmas. God’s gift of salvation, to be born again, is the ultimate gift for mankind. Jesus stepped away from the majesty of heaven to touch and heal this broken, sin-sick planet, coming as a helpless and vulnerable baby, to die for the pardon of our sins. This is a gift that keeps on giving.  

You see, there’s more! God’s gift of grace is the basis and foundation of the story, “God so loved the world,” but like any gift, the transaction isn’t complete until the recipient (us), receives and keeps the gift given. The wonderful thing about God’s giving is that even though we have received his promise, God’s gift is one we can re-gift repeatedly. His salvation freely given is enough that his promise is for “whosoever;” the promises of hope, love, joy and peace, can be found only when the gift is truly received in our heart.  

This isn’t meant to be something we keep to ourselves, it’s meant to be a gift from such an extravagant God, that when we give of the love he has given us, it can’t diminish the love we have received from God.  By my simple calculations, if we would truly take this to heart, we have over 350 days before Christmas rolls around again, and if we desire to see Jesus in the Christmas season, then this is ample time to make a world of difference. How Christmas plays out depends on what people do with the gift God has given. 

Jesus is the one gift meant to be re-gifted, over and over. The message of Christmas is love and forgiveness; God’s peace that passes understanding, bringing love, joy and hope to those who freely receive.  We can’t fix the past, but we can surely be about our Father’s business today.  

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