When I was growing up, we always hoped at the end of Christmas we’d say, “This was the best Christmas we’ve ever had.” Did you grow up in a family with high expectations at Christmas? Of course, we didn’t have any real criteria for what would make it the best Christmas ever. When I was young, it was mostly about presents – did I get what I wanted to get? Then, when I was a little older, it was about certain traditions things that would happen every year that would make it feel like Christmas.
We still have those things.
In December, every year, my wife, puts on Christmas music and makes Christmas biscuits and a Christmas Cake. Some Santa and reindeer biscuits get iced with Christmas icing. Then there’s the cherry ripe ones with chocolate & coconut and cherries. And some white Christmas and brown Christmas. And melting moments. Funny thing is, I’m not allowed to eat them until Christmas day. And the Christmas cake has been renamed the New Years cake because on Christmas day we are overwhelmed with food and the cake doesn’t get cut till next year.
But even if it doesn’t taste that way, it feels like Christmas when the oven is at full temperature & the mixer is going mad. Maybe it’s more about nostalgia but that’s what sometimes we call “the Christmas spirit.”
Christmas at Lennox Heads.
Years ago, my whole family went to my dad’s place in Lennox head. It was a two-bedroom house with one bathroom and toilet. And dad had one bedroom. We had three small kids and two of my brothers came with their wives and children. There were children and beds all over the place. Together there were20 of us one year. It was crowded, it was messy, it was cheap, but we were together. But really – that was not our best Christmas ever. But looking back, I smile as I remember the feeling of Christmas that comes from being part of a big family celebration.
But what about this year… this Christmas. It can be kind of a complex season to navigate. There is shopping to get done. All the busyness, running around… All the organising of who brings what and where to meet. After shopping, for some, there’s probably office parties. There will be family gatherings – sometimes lots of them. And after family gatherings, there are therapist appointments! Then you add all of that economic uncertainty Christmas can bring.
So, it just made me think about this year. What would it take this year for this to be the best Christmas ever? How will we know if it is? What is the standard?
In the bible we find the story of the first Christmas and I think that gives us a clue to what would make this the best Christmas ever. There is one thing that is the key here. John16 3:says… “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The one thing it seems from that verse is Love. What made that first Christmas great to God Himself is what He did that Christmas! The most famous verse in the Bible starts with “God so loved the world that He gave…,”
Giving is what love does. Giving is how love expresses itself. Giving is the heart of love; and therefore, the heart of God. Giving is what God is into. If there is one thing people do not understand, about God, it is this… God is not a taker; God is a giver. This is the good news from the Bible.
In the ancient world, there were many stories about the gods. There were Roman gods, Greek gods Egyptian gods, Assyrian gods, Babylonian gods and others. Those gods supposedly created human beings to be kind of lackeys, or slaves, to give them food, to do what the gods needed because those gods were takers. Yet amongst this the God of the people of Israel is a God who is so creative and so generous that after He created a beautiful world He says to those He created… “Now take it. Now enjoy it.” That was because “God so loved the world…” So, God has been giving from the very beginning.
Don’t be deceived.
The book of James, adds “Do not be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.” The key word in this verse is the word ‘every.’ He gives not just good and perfect gifts…but every gift is from above! This, when you understand it, will change the way you think about God.
Here is the truth: You don’t have to own stuff to enjoy it. Look around. Enjoy the trees and the surf and the beaches and the mountains. But don’t be deceived friends, God is a giver, not a taker. And God’s generosity isn’t just lavish, it is continual. It is ceaseless. It doesn’t end.
Someone once wrote about God “Your mercies are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” Every morning, God is saying, Did you like that sunrise yesterday?
- Here’s another one.
- Here is food for your body.
- Here is air for your lungs.
- Here is beauty for your eyes.
- Here is music for your ears.
- Here is strength for needs.
- Here are friends for your heart.
- Here is a purpose for your day.
All the time, God is giving. That is what He does all day long.
So, what made the first Christmas the best ever is that God finally got to give, His best gift of all. It seems to me that He had one gift He’d been saving up all these years. It is like that first Christmas He set a new record for compassion and generosity. It is like He was so excited about this gift, He couldn’t keep quiet about it.
The Messianic Secret.
When Jesus began His ministry so many people had the wrong idea about the Messiah. They thought the Messiah, was going to be a taker…To take power, control and vengeance on His enemies. So, Jesus couldn’t let them know He was the Messiah too soon. He had to re-educate them about who the Messiah was first. That’s why sometimes in the gospels, when Jesus heal somebody and say to them, “don’t tell anybody what I just did” because He needed to do a little re-education first. He has to keep what’s sometimes called the Messianic secret.
When Jesus was born, I think the Father was so excited. He had been anticipating this moment year after year, century after century, and millennium after millennium. He had sent messengers to give clues like we read in Isaiah 53. But on that first Christmas He sends a whole sky full of angels with the message – “Hey Earth, I can’t tell you exactly what you’re getting, because it is a secret, but it is a Saviour.” God is a giver, not a taker.
He Gave to You & Me.
And what made the first Christmas so great was He got to give the best gift of all to people who needed it the most…sinners – like you and me.
So, here is what I was thinking will make this the best Christmas ever… It’s not how pretty the house looks on Christmas Day, not how great the music is, not the stuff we get, not the food we eat, not the moments we create, not the feelings we experience. It’s not even the Christmas biscuits we get to eat eventually. It is this…
What if we were to get so filled up with the love of God that we were to become conduits of God’s blessing to other people around us. Especially people who are broke and broken and people who don’t have much hope. What if we were to notice them? What if we were to get so filled up with the love of God that we were to listen to them and pray for them and help them? What if we give to people who have a need this Christmas more than ever? What if we were to express record levels of compassion in tangible, real, personal, sometimes costly ways? I think that would be the best Christmas ever.
We Can Do It This Year.
So lets find another way to do Christmas this year. To pursue an alternative to the see more, want more, buy more, have more, shop more, wrap more, break more, get disappointed more, rushed, frenzied, stressed that our world calls the Christmas season. Happy Christmas to all the retired blokes. I hope this one is the best yet!