[bl]T[/bl]is the season of giving and receiving. The very heart of hospitality. And knowing how to do both with grace is a gift in and of itself.
All giving, even that which is wrapped in paper and tied with bows, ought to be from the heart. Simple gestures and graces to hold that communicate I know you. I care about you. I thought of you. I want to provide for you.
And all receiving is a heart gift as well. Welcoming into your life what others offer you. With genuine gratitude, authentic appreciation spoken or shown.
So when we make lists and tell people what it is we want, how will we ever learn to receive?
And when we buy and wrap an expected gift from someone’s list, how will we ever learn to give?
So I wonder, then, what it is we’re really doing during these Christmas days. When did we start expecting instead of receiving, and buying instead of giving?
With the first bite of sin. That’s the moment. That’s when we started wanting what we want, instead of what someone else wanted for us. Our will verses God’s. Our desires instead of His. We chose sin, rather than the good and perfect gifts from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.
The moment we welcomed death, we began to struggle to know how to be givers and receivers of life.
But then came Christmas. Jesus, born into our sin, who leads the way in the generosity of grace.
Generosity isn’t about what we give. It’s about how we give.
And receiving isn’t about what we’re getting. It’s about how we welcome.
Christmas has always been about the giving and receiving of gifts. God giving his son. Jesus giving life. A world receiving their Christ. A savior receiving his broken people.
Giving and receiving. These gifts of the heart, they are really one. Two inseparable gifts, connected to the very heart of Christmas: Jesus, The Giver and Receiver of all things.
And to faithfully learn one, you must also learn the other. For giving begins with receiving. And receiving begins with giving. To be a people who graciously and generously gives to others, we must understand what it means to receive from God. And to humbly receive from others, we must understand what it means to give ourselves to a Savior.
Grace, wrapped in swaddling and tied with humble love – this is the gift offered to us all. The gift that teaches us how to give and receive among one another.
Let us abandon the habits and expectations of a consumer culture and follow the lead of the generous Christ. Let us be givers of grace and receivers of life. Let us give to others from our creative minds and compassionate hearts. Let us want what others want to give us.
And whatever it is we’re giving, let us offer in love. And whatever it is we’re receiving, let us welcome with humility.