This Advent season, our congregational theme is “Be the Gift.” We’ll be thinking about how can we “be the gift” that God is giving to the world.
(I realize of course the possible negative connotations here. It is often said of someone, “Well he thinks is just God’s gift to humanity!” And when that is said, it is NOT meant as a compliment! But that’s not how we are using the idea; there is another way to think of it.)
I saw a TV commercial last week that featured a guy shopping for Christmas gifts. He bought a bunch of electronic gadgets and walked out of the advertised store full of confidence. The tagline of the commercial was, “They’ll not only love it - they’ll love you.”
My jaw dropped. My stomach rolled. I may even have uttered an incoherent grunt of disgust.
The implication is not even subtle. “You have to buy love.” No! No! No! A million times NO! Christmas gifts are not given in order to earn someone’s love. Christmas gifts are given to honor the greatest gift ever in the history of gifts - the gift of Jesus himself.
Jesus embodied God’s love; that’s what the incarnation was all about. He was and is the gift that God was giving to the world. The church is the body of Christ in the world today; the church ought to be a continual embodiment of God’s love, the ongoing incarnation of God’s gift.
Simply put, we should be the gift. You - me - us together. What if we thought less about buying someone a gift and more about being a gift in their life? Be a gift of presence, a gift of hope, a gift of joy, a gift of love. Be a gift of encouragement, a gift of friendship. Be a gift of grace to someone.
That’s what we’re about this Advent season, being gifts for one another and for the world. May God bless our holy season, a season not of greed but of giving, a season not of presents but of presence, a season not of crass consumerism but of sacred celebration.
Happy Advent, everyone!