Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After Christmas

Christmas night often finds folks in a bit of a melancholy mood. After weeks of anticipation, the celebrations have flashed by and are suddenly gone, fading into the night.

This is natural, understandable and probably the best teaching moment of the whole season. As long as the beautifully wrapped gifts remain unopened and the celebrations still future, they appear to be the hope we are waiting for. But when all are opened and the merriment past, we sense we are still longing for something more, something lasting.

I had one of those teachable moments with my granddaughter, Hanna, yesterday. After opening gifts and eating a good meal, she was sitting on the stair in a rather pensive mood. I sat next to her to talk about what she was feeling. I’ve learned that children don’t know what is happening to their emotions or why, so I generally don’t ask the “Why?” question but rather explain the “What” to them.

I pointed out to Hanna that she was learning a lessons many grown-ups haven’t yet grasp:

1. Gifts and events can’t fill you soul. They are expressions of generosity but are not designed to satisfy. They’re designed to point us to the Giver.

2. Putting our hopes in gifts will leave us empty inside. We will ask, “Is that all?” because we know deep down that’s not all there is. We are designed to treasure a Person, not His things.

3. It is more blessed to give than receive. What makes you feel richer, getting the presents you wanted or making someone else happy with something you gave to them? A greedy heart lives in a small, lonely world. A generous heart lives in a wide world of love.

I hope she remembers some of grandpa’s sagged advice! I learned it from someone; I pass it along in hopes it helps others as much as it helps me.

It is just the way of God’s grace to let the glitter and flash of celebrations (even in His honor) pass and then even in the melancholic void they leave teach us once again, “It’s not I, but Christ.”

Marantha!

3 comments:

Hal Bekemeyer said...

Sagacity indeed. Great lessons for a young mind - sad that many adults have missed these truths and suffer much frustration and depression for their lack.

Jessi said...

Hi Pastor Jordan! Thank you very much for your message, and for your blog. This is my first post.

I think your points about the true reason for giving was really great! I found myself apologizing to my neighbors after we exchanged gifts. I realized that my "gift" was of little value compared with theirs. She smiled and her husband quietly said "that's not the reason for giving Jessica" and I realized that my focus was totally on the "gift" instead of the giver! I was sooooo "embarrassed." I smiled, and quickly apologized, and thanked him for helping me refocus on the true reason for giving, which is "Love and friendship." I didn't give my gift cuz I wanted one in return. I gave out of valuing my friends.

I thought of God's Son Christ Jesus giving Himself as a "priceless gift" to the world out of love. He offered himself as a sacrifice on the cross to take away everyone's sin. The Bible says "the wages of sin is death" and Christ paid the "penalty" for sin. He died on the cross, shedding His blood to cleanse everyone from sin "eternally" and make anyone perfect before God forever, through faith in what He did for us. Christ Jesus rose from the dead, so that we would be justified before God, receiving Christ's righteousness! The free gift of life in Christ Jesus is available to anyone by faith. You can't pay for a gift! There's no one good enough to get to heaven. We all need our sin debt paid. Christ Jesus paid for all of everyone's sin, "past, present, and future" so that we won't have to suffer eternal separation from God and from His love, for eternity in Hell!! The only gift I can offer to God in return is giving myself as a "living sacrifice" so that I can let God use me to share the message of His love and grace to the world! Thank you Pastor Jordan for your love and service to the body of Christ!

Maranatha!
Jessica

mykjonz said...

Very interesting observation about our God given human nature. I've always been interested in the subject of hope. In the bible hope shows up in almost all of the different books, one place where it is noticeably absent is in the gospels. These verses from Romans 8 are very interesting in that context; "[24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
[25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."

It seems that the Jews didn't have anything to hope for in that the "One" they were hoping for was right there for them to see!!!