People moan, “People give too much at Christmas.”
Others echo, “It’s too materialistic.”
“A Christmas Tree? Christmas was really co-opted by early Christians to stamp out Paganism,” argues another.
If you take the joy of giving out of Christmas,
you take Christ out of Christmas.
The gifts – the coffee cake, wreathes, smiles, homemade candy, Savior songs, wrapped boxes full of surprises, – to my children, family, friends, teachers, strangers – each gift a reminder of our Savior’s birth, a Merry Christmas gift because how un-Merry, how Un-ChristDay everyday would be without Him.
Dropping those giving seeds grows new ChristDay roots.
“Santa doesn’t exist,” a childhood friend said to me years ago. I marched home, opened my grandmother’s dictionary, a tome-sized book – and found the definition of Santa Clause: a person who gives.
Psssst. . . . every person with a desire to give can be Santa Clause – a person who gives.
St. Nicholas, a rich man renowned for loving our Savior, sneaked into a poor man’s home to anonymously leave dowries for a poor father’s 3 daughters who would have to be sold into prostitution without such generosity of spirit.
Christmas encourages the joy of giving, the joy of dreams full-filled – sometimes fulfilled by others – because sometimes we cannot achieve them on our own
And the story of St. Nicholas’ giving left the poor man’s house, traveled door to door, town to town, down through history, until a creative writer took that generosity of spirit down every chimney, into every house, every December 25.
“He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
2,000 years of un-named Christian’s have done the same thing, lived generosity of spirit in the name of Jesus Christ – and since we don’t know all the names, all the stories, we hang those memories on the stockings of St. Nicholas or Santa Clause – all those un-named people who lived out Christ’s gospel.
How many heart doors have been opened to the Gospel of Love because doors opened to Santa Clause?
And many went into all the world, preached the gospel of love to every creature. (Mark 16:15)
As they went into all the world, they gave a great gift: Salvation to All who Believe that Jesus, the Christ, died to save us –
not just say I believe but to to walk and talk I believe.
And when I believe, I pass the gift of Salvation forward through words, service, hugs, time, gifts – all wrapped with Jesus love.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4: 7-11)
So the stem branches out, leaves bloom, and seeds ready to drop.
The piece of wood, the cross on which the Savior gave His life that I might be called a child of God.
He didn’t just give himself to us once, but twice, the second time on the cross:
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24)
“the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29)
crucified on a tree
gave his life for you and for me.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)
The Father, the creator of the universe gave us His son. I believe His son had a choice – and His son loved us so much that he wanted to be born to a carpenter and his wife, that he loved us so much, he put aside his glory, his power, his seat at the right hand of God.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)
So he gave the first gift – him, born man, helpless, needing his mama, needed to learn to walk, to talk, to be a carpenter.
The Original Generosity of Spirit
Yes, our gift giving is a shabby reproduction of His gift.
Yes, we don’t always give with perfectly.
Yes, the Christmas Tree wasn’t there over 2,000 years ago.
We are created in God’s image. Within us is the desire give back. Our gifts can never equal the gifts of the Father and the Son. Yet, it is in the heart of giving, the practicing of giving that we share the Father and the son.
I suspect that someone wanted to make Christmas a bright gift celebrating our Lord’s birthday. To celebrate, to give our best, our prettiest – and spend a season giving and decorating to honor our Savior. On the outside, sometimes a sparkly Christmas Tree is the closest I can get, and, if you peer closely, you might see it as a symbol of belief walked out, from the root to the seed.