Christmas Is for Giving
Perhaps you’ve seen some of the ads for high-end Christmas gifts this year and shook your head in disbelief—the custom made guitar for $12,000, his and hers sport aircrafts for $250,000, the special edition Jaguar XJL for $105,000, or the handbag with matching boots for just under $3,900 (Neiman Marcus 2009 Christmas Book).
And you have certainly heard the reports of our troubled economy: unemployment rate of 9.4%, mortgage foreclosures rose by 23% over the 2008 rate, homelessness and use of food pantries has nearly doubled in some areas.
It may have occurred to you that we live in a world that has gone completely mad in its values; that in over 2,000 Christmases we still have not caught on that name of the game of life, as God wants it lived, is self-giving in love.
So we have come here to this quiet church this cold and rainy evening to sing and say and hear and do all those things, that especially on this Holy Eve, bring us as close to the mind and heart of God as we can hope to get on this side of heaven; and try to see clearly just what God, our Father, wants us, His children in Christ, to know and do.
As is often the case with the Scripture readings for the great feasts of the Church Year, the Gospel for Christmas tells the story, the narrative of the event, and the Epistle concerns itself more with the meaning, the significance, of the Christ event. The traditional Epistle for the late service of Christmas Eve is Titus 2:11-14. In his letter to young pastor Titus, the Apostle Paul sets down in one sentence the central meaning of the Holy Nativity that we celebrate this evening—the truth that Christmas is for giving. St. Paul writes:
11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14 Continue reading