It was my responsibility to give the Children’s Sermon last Sunday in worship. I wrestled with what to talk to them about. I always find Christmas to be a bit of an awkward time to talk to the children, because I have such great memories of Christmas, but my memories are mostly based on the gospel of consumerism, not the gospel of Christ. So, I sometimes struggle with finding helpful ways to talk to young people about the “true meaning of Christmas.”
Last week I decided to read a passage of Scripture to them and share a story. The Scripture passage I read was Matthew 2:1-2, 9-12 which is about the magi visiting Jesus and bringing him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I asked them what happened in the story. (I was very impressed with how much they got out of the story, they recounted almost every detail.) I asked questions trying to get them to come to a realization that I had during the week that was the motivation for this Children’s Sermon: the magi gave gifts to Jesus, not to each other.
It is interested that the secular meaning of Christmas has become a time to give gifts to other people (and of course receive gifts too!) It seems to me that gifts play two roles in Scripture. First, Jesus is God’s gift to the world. We have all received the gift of the incarnate God sent to save us. Second, the people who recognized this gift for what it was brought gifts to Jesus in worship and thanksgiving.
So, I am coming to a deeper appreciation of the Little Drummer Boy’s struggle: what gift can I bring to Jesus? I have spent more time worrying about and thinking about how what gifts to give to my family and friends. But, in working on a children’s sermon I was reminded that I need to first make sure to receive the gift anew that has been given to me, the gift of God’s loving presence. And then it may be that I need to put more thought into how I will respond to that gift than to any other gift that I give.
I hope and pray that my very life is becoming the gift that I am offering to Jesus in worship and thanksgiving. What gift are you giving to Jesus this Christmas?