So we are finally nearing the end of the Advent season. Advent doesn’t seem to have much relevance in much of society. Watching television commercials and spending time in department stores, it seems as if the Christmas season has been here for quite a while, totally skipping Advent. We are all waiting with joyful anticipation for December 25th to come so that we finally can begin celebrating Christmas proper. The one thing that usually comes to mind when thinking about this time of year is gifts. We all look forward to receiving and giving gifts. When we read the Bible closely we get a much different definition of what a gift actually is. Apart from the wise men (or magi) who gave baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the biblical definition is NOT a Christmas or Birthday present wrapped in shiny paper.
Let us begin with the concept that each and every person is in fact…A GIFT. You are a gift to the world. You are a gift to your family and your friends. God gives each one of us as a gift to others. You are a gift from God to others.
Now some of you may be thinking of something different, that it is talents that define us as gifted. As a youth minister I often times hear that a young person’s talent is sports, and that is their gift to the world. Talents are skills that one works on to become a good athlete or prolific musician. Musicians need to practice; artists need to paint or draw daily to improve their artistry. Writers must write and read daily to work on their storytelling techniques. Talents require practice and they require patience. Becoming a great athlete or virtuoso on the piano does not come over night. Its takes hard work and dedication. Gifts, on the other hand, are inherent in us and given to us by God. Let us look at Jeremiah 1: 5-8.
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth."
But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, `I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD."
Read again what the prophet Jeremiah says. Even before you were born, in your mother’s womb, at the moment you were conceived, God had a plan for you. So don’t be afraid to be a gift to others, even those of you who are young. God has a plan and great things in store for each and every one of you.
Each one of us has the gift of love to give one another. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. And that is the greatest gift you can give someone, which is love. So as we prepare to celebrate the incarnation of Christ at Christmas…when the Word became flesh, we also wait for the second coming of Christ.
Christ will return, and can return at any moment. When Mary and Joseph were looking for a place where she could give birth to baby Jesus there was no room at the inn. Let us all make room for Jesus in our hearts this upcoming Christmas season.