A Gift With a Promise (Jeff Selph) December 11, 2014

A lot of people get engaged on Christmas, or at least while celebrating Christmas.  The American Wedding Study from U.S. Brides magazine found 18 percent of all U.S. engagements happen for Christmas.  Sarah and I were one of those couples.  We were engaged on Christmas day in 2000.  I wasn’t very creative.  I didn’t go all out on some tricky engagement experience.  I did do a pretty good job on the ring, which I picked out myself, though.  Being a future youth pastor, I was already into taking pictures of everything, so I asked her to marry me at a family Christmas party, so someone could get a picture of it.  Not smooth, but she alleges that she said yes.

An engagement ring for Christmas is really a pre-gift.  It’s a gift with a promise of a greater gift.  I gave Sarah a ring, which was a great gift, but with it I was promising to give myself wholly to her forever in marriage, which is a greater gift (depending who you ask).  But really, I cannot give anything more than everything I have, and giving her an engagement ring was a prelude to that.

Christmas is a gift with a promise.  Jesus came to this earth as a baby in the town of Bethlehem.  It is fun to celebrate and remember.  Most families have traditions that they do every year in honor of the holiday.  Our family goes to Bronner’s every year, and we get new pajamas to wear to bed on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas morning, we always do the Christmas story from the Bible in some way before we move on to presents.

But as fun as Christmas is, it’s just a prelude to the real gift: when Jesus gave all that He had.  His being born in a manger in Bethlehem was a great gift, but only because He was promising to give Himself wholly for us.  Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

That’s what we celebrate. Jesus came to earth, and that is worth celebrating, but only because of how He chose to leave it: a Savior, crucified and raised again.

Consider and Discuss:

  1. What types of Christmas traditions did your family have growing up? What are your favorite traditions that you do now as a family?
  2. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received for Christmas? Did you ever get a gift that you knew meant another gift was coming?
  3. Why do you think Jesus chose to come the way He did? Why didn’t He just come and die right away?  Why did He come as a baby and walk this earth for 33 years?
  4. How can you honor Christ’s sacrifice as part of your Christmas celebrations?

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