Better to Receive
From the Pulpit – December 13, 2020
Omaha World Herald
Reverend Eric L. Jay
“Better to Receive”
“Yes! Thank you!” Finally, my own genuine boomerang. I can’t remember what on earth convinced me I had to have a boomerang at 12 years old, but I do remember knowing it was absolutely necessary.
Without the slightest idea of what I was doing, I hurled that boomerang with all I had. Up, up, and some more! So much up, not so much turning, but definitely up. Then…down. Fast and down! Down and right on top of the highest peak of my neighbor’s steep roof. Great. My very first boomerang and it didn’t even work!
Of course, the boomerang was just fine. My approach was not.
Advent is all about approaching Christmas faithfully and with the right focus. A right focus ensures that we not only receive the joy that the birth of the Savior of the World offers us, but that we respond appropriately and faithfully in order to also receive the Savior Jesus who is coming back again. The only way that boomerang was going to come back to me as I desired, was if I approached using it the right way. So it is with Advent – taking extra time to worship, pray, ponder the beautiful mystery of the Word of God made flesh, and be in the Word of God that delivers faith and prepares us to receive our Lord Jesus when he comes back again for the world to see.
What is the “right way” to approach Christmas? Well, it certainly has nothing to do with whatever manmade traditions or imaginary stories we have come up with in society or in our own families and that distract from the real miracle of Immanuel; God with us. It also doesn’t have anything to do with being festive, making merry, or a season of good will and generosity. Christmas is not about giving. Christmas is about receiving the fullness of all that the birth of Jesus Christ offers, and we must come empty to the manger if we desire to be filled all the way. We must come in repentant joy, reflecting on how desperately we need this Innocent Child who has come to live and die and rise in our place.
Christmas is about receiving the only gift we truly desire and the only gift needed. A gift we would never be able to afford for ourselves. The gift of God’s only Son who was born to die and who has saved us from ourselves and the death our sin deserves. This graciousness of God in the manger cannot be adequately described or reduced to a Christmas carol. Neither can we fathom the value of such a gift, or the depth of what it offers, so that we come to be thankful enough or give enough in return. God expects nothing in return other than a faithful receiving of what He has given at such great cost! As the Apostle Paul exclaims in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”