By Bruce Dykstra, Pastor
River Community Church
164 Davis Street, Douglas
Giving gifts and Christmas go hand-in-hand. As a parent, I want to find a gift to give my children that will be the best Christmas gift: one that they like, want, and will enjoy. I learned this from my parents, when I was a child. For several Christmas seasons I had hinted at the Big Tonka Truck, the steel kind that you could load and dump. My parents finally caught the hint and I received the truck. Joy and pleasure was all mine…for about a week. My enjoyment and pleasure ended and I started hinting for the Big Tonka Pay Loader. Christmas gifts can be that way.
Another kind of gift was one that my wife gave to a single-parent family she knew. They celebrated Christmas differently than most people because there was no money for the giving part. My wife was moved to help so we put a basket together of some clothes and a Christmas meal. We dropped it off at their door step, knocked and then ran and hid. When they opened the door they were surprised. They took the gift inside. We saw them celebrating Christmas differently that year. In the weeks that followed, we heard and saw a thankful family because they knew what it was like to receive a good gift. My wife experienced something different as well: the joy of helping and loving a family by giving.
There is a difference between these two gifts. The joy of the second lasted a lot longer and was felt a lot deeper than the first. One satisfied for a moment while the other continues to bring joy because it was a moment where my wife responded to a desire to care for someone, to share something of herself and a willingness to step out, in a small way, to serve a family. That gift lingers in our memory and in our story. They are two different gifts. The first one was a gift but the second one was a good gift.
What makes a good gift?
A good gift has someone else in mind. It is not a husband giving his wife a drill because he needs one. I have been there and should not have done that. It is not a friend giving two tickets to a show expecting to be taken. When we think about giving a good gift, think about caring for and serving another.
A good gift has a lasting impression. A veteran shares a story about a good gift he saw. A fellow veteran gave another veteran a pair of socks even though he had lost a leg in the war. The giver was telling his brother-in- arms that he was a whole person in his eyes. This kind of gift leaves a mark beyond the life of socks.
A good gift involves sacrifice. An example is when someone gives the gift of time to care for children so the parents can step out. Or relieving a person with an ailing spouse or parent so he or she can take a moment to refresh. This involves giving away your time at your expense.
As I think about good gifts in this way, I am reminded of the famous verse from the Bible that shows up at a lot of sporting events: John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
I am struck by God’s posture towards us: He gave. God’s response to the brokenness of our connection to the divine was to give the solution: His Son. This is a good gift. It is a gift that has others in mind. It is a gift that leaves the lasting mark of eternity. It is a gift that involves sacrifice. God gave His Son as the good gift of Christmas, knowing we were heading towards the death, burial and resurrection of Easter. It is this good news in the midst of the bad news of our brokenness that makes God’s gift a very good one.
May all of us give and open good gifts this Christmas.
May all of us receive the good gift of God’s Son.