Originally scheduled for November 18
The Christmas gift giving season is upon us. If
you head out to your local Christian bookstore you will soon find
gifts in abundance. They tend to come in three categories.
There are the traditional gifts; such
things as nativity sets, candles and tree ornaments.
Some items might be classified as
“new every year” — the type of gift is the same but each year it
looks a little different. These are things like books, Christmas
themed cookware and mugs, and of course Christmas cards.
Then there are the not so traditional
gifts. This year we have a Veggie Tales Flip Train, for example. Or,
if you tend more to the scriptural side, there is a version of the
International Children’s Bible which is known as the “Shiny Sequin
If you stare at the selection long enough you
will eventually begin to ask yourself, “just what is Christmas all
about?” The answer for the Christian is very simple: it commemorates
the incarnation of God. That means that we are celebrating the fact
that God, the creator of the universe, came to live among us as a
human being, born as a baby. It is the miracle upon which all of
It is also the miracle that makes the atonement
of Christ possible. The sacrifice which atones for our sin must be
perfect, and perfection comes only from God. But the sacrifice also
needed to be “in the flesh”; and therefore human like us. It is this
combination of perfect God and perfect man which makes Christ
eligible to be our atonement sacrifice. The incarnation — Christmas
— looks forward to the cross, and from there to Easter Sunday.
It is in the incarnation that God gives us his
greatest gift: himself. We celebrate that each week when we take
Communion. The bread you take symbolizes his real, physical body;
the flesh of a human being who was also divine. The cup celebrates
the blood. The Old Testament teaches us that without the shedding of
blood there is no remission of sin. If Christ does not suffer, we
cannot be saved.
So it is that we take Communion on a regular
basis, at his command. It was given to us as a Memorial — something
that would cause us to remember. We are to remember his sacrifice,
his great love for us — and to do so until he comes again. The
incarnation — Christmas — was his first coming. His children eagerly
await his return.