The Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst - December 25, 1622
[I wrote this post for our church blog but wanted to cross-publish it here as well.]
It's after-Christmas, and with full bellies and houses, our culture clamors for our attention. It wants us to focus anywhere but the manger. And oh, there's so much to distract us from the miracle of Christ's coming. The Super Bowl, the NCAA National Playoffs & Championship, after-Christmas sales, the "best of 2017" shows and web articles, New Year's preparations.. It's like there's a tidal wave of events and responsibilities (back to work!) that bury us.
The quietness of Christmas Eve is quickly forgotten. The simply joys of Christmas morning - the delight in a child's eyes and the smell of lunch cooking are lost too soon.
As western society jams its foot on the cultural accelerator, trying as hard as it can to leave behind its too-close-encounter with Christ at Christmas, the simple words of Jesus echo in my ears:
"Freely you received, freely give." (Matthew 10.8)
In the middle of Jesus' instructions to His disciples to go, proclaim, heal, cleanse and cast out demons, these five words leap off the page and keep us centered on Christmas.
Christmas is, after all, a joyful reminder of the giving heart of God. He loved the world so much that He gave (John 3.16). It is good news. God is the Giver. He is the source. He is life.
May we not get lost in the rush of post-Christmas craziness. Let us anchor our souls and focus again on giving.
Questions to Consider:
Who can you give to post-Christmas?
What commitments can you make for giving in 2018?
Have you received something that you might give away?
How can you cultivate a joyful heart as you give? (2 Corinthians 9.7)
More importantly than your finances, what commitments of time, relationship, and service could you make for 2018?
We have freely received. The day after Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what we've been given - not just materially. Jesus has come! Let us reflect His heart through giving.
"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2.11)