Q. What is Christmas?
A. Christmas is a gift, God’s gift to the world.
So many people think of Christmas as a time for giving. But they are wrong. Christmas is a time for receiving.
Two Bible verses dealing with the birth of Christ come to mind. The first is that "when the time had fully come, God sent his son, born of woman ... so that we might receive adoption as God's children" (Galatians 4:4-5).
The second verse is that “he came to his own but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, … he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:11-12)
When babies are brought home from the delivery room, it is the custom even today to wrap them in receiving blankets. There is a difference between bringing a child into the world, and receiving a new born into your family. The act of receiving in an intentional, purposeful act, an act that changes the receiver. Being given something and receiving it are quite different things.
The act of receiving creates community, builds relationships, and shapes one’s character. I’m a city kid and not much of an outdoorsman. But imagine that I buy an acreage on which there is some timber. Imagine also that my son decides I need a chain saw and buys me one as a gift.
Well, there are two responses I can make.
1. I can accept the gift I’m given with thanks, stick it in my shed, thinking that I might need it someday. Perhaps I might even get him a gift in return, maybe the gas grill he’s been wanting. (Being given the gift)
2. Or I can receive the gift with appreciation, seeing in it my son’s invitation for me to adjust my priorities and spend some quality time outdoors. Perhaps I might even give him a gift in return, maybe invite him to spend time with me working the timber together. (Receiving the gift)
Most of us are better skilled at giving than at receiving. This Christmas I invite you to spend more time practicing your receiving skills. Make an effort to receive every card and gift given you. And make an effort to receive God’s precious infant gift, wrapping him in the receiving blanket of your heart. The change it will make in you will be so marvelous; it will make the angels sing.