SPIRITUAL MATTERS: Give Jesus your best for Chrismas

I wonder what Jesus wants for Christmas this year?
I have been pondering this question while preparing for Advent and Christmas sermons at Calvary Lutheran. It’s an interesting question because in most cases the one having the birthday is the one who receives gifts.
However at Christmas it seems the focus is on what gifts we will either be giving someone else or receiving for Jesus’ birthday.
Of course these can be wonderful expressions of our love and appreciation for others. And the Bible teaches us that especially when we give to those in need we are giving to Jesus in a very real way. But still, I wonder how often we really stop to ask the question, “What might Jesus want from me for Christmas this year?”
Here is a little story which might make you smile, as well as offer some insights into answering this question:
A couple days before Christmas there was a long line at the post office as people were frantically trying to get things in the mail for loved ones far away. An exasperated woman finally reaches the counter and asks, “Can you get this to my dad in California by Christmas?”
The clerk responds, “Yes, but it will cost you to get it there overnight.”
“How much?”
“It will be $53.25.”
The woman continues, “Wow, that is a lot, but I’ve got to do it. This present is for my dad and it has to be there by Christmas…because Christmas is also his birthday.”
To which the clerk responds: “What a bummer…having a birthday on Christmas. I sure am glad I don’t know anyone born on Christmas.”
Someone from the back of the line with a quick wit and a vital faith says, “I sure am glad I do!”
I believe that Christmas, at its deepest level, is really all about knowing someone born on Christmas day. I mean really knowing him and how much he loves us and how much we matter to him.
I am convinced that the best gift of all we can give Jesus, and what he really wants most, is our hearts and our lives and our best.
This is what he wants, because he knows that when we do put him first, our lives will begin to have more purpose, hope, joy, peace and love – for God and for others. God sent Jesus for us at that first Christmas to be the gift that would truly keep on giving because we matter that much to God.
So what does this look like? Here is what Paul writes in Colossians chapter 3:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
I think Jesus would jump for joy, do a dance, even some somersaults, if we tried to live this our more and more as our gift for his birthday this Christmas.
The Rev. Jonathan Heierman is pastor of Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church

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