The Gifts of Christmas

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Hey, friend, what are you giving this Christmas? Are you done with your “FOOD” shopping yet? What pastry or ham or drinks or fruits to give? How to pack these gifts? How to deliver them? When to do it? Whoa.. I didn’t expect that even in the pandemic, gift-giving continues. I didn’t know that I too would be caught up in the gift-giving fever as well.

As I read this morning’s passage, I wonder if I have given to the Celebrant. What would Jesus like as a present to celebrate his birthday?

Micah 6
6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Perhaps I can offer him my ‘ministries’ – works done for his church? being a leader at BSF? singing in the virtual choir? cooking for my family? praying for others? my tithes and offerings – donations to charities? my time offered to listen and be there for people who need a listening ear?

Surely, all these are good gifts to offer to God, right? Whether gifts are good or not depends not on the giver’s perspective but in the eyes of the recipient. What is good in God’s eyes? Micah continues:

8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

God has shown me – mortal me; human me; sinful me, what is good to give. What does the Lord ‘require’ of me? Require = need = ask.

I realised that gift-giving is so much easier if only my friends will ask me for gifts that they want. I am happily surprised at what my friend and I did this Christmas. When she said she’s bringing me food, I candidly told her: Please don’t. I still have food. I will take your gift only if you get what I have. Do you want ? or _? How many pieces? And so I give only what is asked for.

So what does God ask of me? 3 things…

Justice: am I a reflection of His justice in everything I do?
Mercy: am I compassionate and kind as He is?
Humility: am I humbly walking with Him?

I realised that gifts meant something but only in the spirit by which they are offered. What is in my heart when I offered my gifts to God?

God gives me so much. He does not need anything from me; He gave not because He wanted something in exchange. He just wants me to love Him. How do I do that? Obedience. He wants me to:
1) Act justly. Is justice about being fair? “Just” refers to an action justified under the circumstances. “Fair” refers to an action that treats people as they deserve to be treated. God treats everyone justly even if we do not deserve it. His justice demands death as consequence for sin. Yet He also makes the sun to shine on both the good and the bad. His justice is coupled with mercy.

Am I just? Do I speak for the oppressed? Do I stand for what is right even when I stand alone?

2) Love mercy: to be kind, merciful and forgiving. If God is so merciful to me for all the sins I’ve done, should I not do the same to those who need forgiveness? (even if no apologies were offered?) If God relents from giving me what I deserve, consequences for the wrongs I’ve done, is it not just right that I extend the same compassion to others?

Am I kind to people who are rude? Am I kind when people are unkind? Am I compassionate to people who need compassion?

3) Walk humbly with my God: Humility is a life-time journey. I can never say that I have arrived. Humility is something I lost when I think I have it. To be humble is to be meek and gentle like Jesus – who gave up His position as Son of God to be the forsaken and despised ‘sinner’ on the cross – from whom God turned his face away. To be meek is not being weak. Jesus is meek when He washed the feet of Peter who denied Him. He washed the feet of Judas who betrayed Him. He washed the feet of Thomas who doubted Him. Jesus is meek before his persecutors when they wrongly accused Him. Jesus did not need to defend Himself because He knew where His authority and power stand. He is humbly secure in the love of His Father – as the Son of God.

Am I humbly secure as the beloved of God? I can forgive in humility because I have been forgiven. I can choose to let go and not defend myself knowing that God loves me and forgives me.

These are the 3 gifts my God require of me this Christmas: gold of justice; frankincense of mercy and myrrh of humility.

Lord Jesus, help me to be just, to be kind and to be humble as I celebrate your birth this Christmas. In your name I pray, Amen.

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