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Christmas 2018: For It Is In Giving That We Receive

by Father Jadon


The Church's Christmas celebration stretches from anticipatory gatherings on Christmas Eve, around the manger, through twelve days of Christmas feasting and gift giving, to the great concluding feast of the Epiphany, on January 6, when the three wise ones both offer gifts and receive, on behalf of the whole world, the illuminating realization that with the birth of Jesus comes the gift of a whole new way of entering into relationship with God. At the heart of the Christmas story is the mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of divinity being embodied in human flesh and experience. How do we receive and respond to such an unfathomable gift? This is not an idea for us to ponder only one day, or even twelve. Rather, Christmas offers an invitation for each of us to unceasingly incarnate, to unceasingly "make into flesh," Jesus' self-giving way of peace and love.

One of the most well known verses of scripture is a reminder of God's gift of love in Christ Jesus: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). In his Christmas Message this year, our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry says:

"For years, I’ve often thought that that passage only referred to Jesus giving his life as a sacrifice on the cross. And to be sure, that is part of what it means. But . . . that passage not only speaks of Jesus willingly giving his life on the cross, but it actually speaks of Christmas, of God giving his very self, his very son to the world, not for anything God could get out of it, but for the good and the welfare and the well-being of the world . . . of us."

It is a paradox, a seeming contradiction, that “it is in giving that we receive,” as the prayer attributed to Saint Francis so eloquently puts it. But, if we are to embrace the true meaning and spirit of Christmas, I think we must embrace this seeming contradiction whole-heartedly. Perhaps the ultimate gift of our Christmas celebration, then, is a reminder of the power and priority of proactively giving the love and peace for which the world hungers over and above waiting or seeking to receive it. May our Christmas celebrations inspire this kind of incarnational giving in each of us.

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives...

Last Published: December 21, 2018 11:13 AM
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