Why is it that we give gifts to each other on Jesus’ birthday every year at Christmas? Shouldn’t Jesus be the one receiving presents, just as He did from the wise men when this whole Christmas thing started?
Last Sunday we kicked off the Advent sermon series, Christmas Is Not Your Birthday, inspired by a book by Pastor Michael Slaughter. In the sermon, I challenged all of us to put the focus on giving gifts to Jesus this year. What can we get someone who literally has everything already? I offer two suggestions:
1. Share the Good News of Jesus with people. Tell someone who Jesus is and what Jesus is doing in our lives. I believe that introducing people to Jesus will be the perfect Christmas present for Jesus!
2. Spend as much money on Jesus as we do on all our other Christmas gifts combined. It is Jesus’ birthday after all. By all means, enjoy giving gifts to the people that we love. Let’s just include Jesus, too.
On Christmas Eve here at Sharon United Methodist Church, we will be taking up an offering at each service to help the homeless. Half the total amount of offerings will go to the Charlotte Urban Ministry Center, a group that helps the homeless to survive, find jobs and permanent housing, and battle substance abuse. They also are responsible for the Room in the Inn ministry that our church participates in. The other half of the offerings will go to Haywood Street United Methodist Church in Asheville. Brian Combs, who grew up in our church, is the pastor of this congregation that primarily is composed of homeless people. Haywood Street relies upon other churches to fund its ministry to the homeless.
In the wake of the annual Christmas unwrapping madness, we leave empty, ripped-open boxes strewn across the floor. For many of us, they serve as reminders that the Christmas frenzy often leaves us feeling empty on the inside, as well as in debt. How soon are we back at the mall in a futile effort trying to buy something else to satisfy us? How many of the gifts that we gave others are being returned or re-gifted to someone else? Wouldn’t it be nice to feel better about Christmas this year? Let’s give it a shot by welcoming Jesus into our hearts, by sharing the Good News of Jesus with others, and by helping the homeless. In so doing, we will be saying, Happy Birthday, Jesus!