Over the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing the themes of
Advent. In the first episode, we examined how the prophets hoped for the Messiah.
Then, we talked about the peace he would bring. And last week, we heard about
the joy the shepherds experienced as they encountered the incarnation. Now, I’d
like to look at our response to that miraculous gift.
When my children were younger, we would place an ornament on
our tree every night until Christmas Eve. And as soon as the last one went up,
my kids would tear into their presents. With each unwrapped gift, their smiles
grew wider and wider, until finally – they would rush to my wife and I and
shower us with hugs!
Giving and receiving gifts has always been a way of
expressing our love for one another. And in the Bible, we see God does the same
thing. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how
to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven
give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11).
But Christmas wasn’t just about God giving us a “good gift”
– Christ’s birth was the greatest gift ever!
John wrote: “For God
so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in
him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into
the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John
Did you catch that phrasing? God loved us so much that he gave us a gift to bring us into
communion with him.
But how does God want us to respond to this gift?
I think the answer can be found in the concept of
participation. Christ has drawn us out of darkness and into light. And through
this relationship, a relationship with Christ, we are sanctified, transformed,
becoming more like Christ. We know God is love, and his purpose is to perfect
all things, so when we receive this gift, our natural response is to love
others. First John 4:19 sums it up like this: “We love because he first loved us.”
Christmas, we here at GCI wish you and your families the gifts of hope, peace,
joy and love. I hope you’ll continue to join us as we respond to those gifts
and participate with Christ in the coming year.