Have a Very Good Christmas

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1: 27, 31

Whew! We made it! Christmas has finally arrived. I hope today meets all the weeks of exciting build-up and your expectations. There are masses of people in an unwrapping frenzy, and thousands of pastors taking a sigh of relief hoping that once again they were able to tell the Christmas story with hope, meaning and purpose. 

As a pastor, I’ve come to realize how much the world prefers the fiction of Christmas more than the actual account of Jesus. They would rather pass along stories of an old jolly, chubby man over the facts about God’s love for each one of us. I suppose Santa is easier to talk about than sacrifice while sipping on eggnog. However, the fact remains that God loves us so much He sent His Son to die for all of us. 

But why?

If you’re familiar with the account of Jesus’ birth found in the Gospels, you know it’s not a dull story. It has action and intrigue and a beautiful, generous feel-good ending. So why would we prefer a story about flying reindeer, elves, and shiny presents over the real Christmas story?

I think it’s about the idea of giving. 

Wait! Before you think I’m going to tell you that you need to give or sacrifice more, hang on for a moment. It’s not what you think. This message is actually about “getting,” not “giving.” No, really! I think in this last week, I have gotten a glimpse of why it’s easier and more comfortable to choose a season of giving over receiving. 

When we were created, God said we were “very good!” As Creator of the Universe, He knew our story before it played out and still decided the messiness of satan, sin and sacrifice was the best plan. Where it has gotten complicated is in our inability to receive gifts. Almost all of us would agree that giving gifts on Christmas is almost always better than getting them. But, have you ever been given a gift you didn’t expect or was so big it blew your mind? What was your first response? If you are like me more often than not, I lean towards “I don’t deserve this,” which really means “I’m not good enough to receive this.” As adults, we find comfort in giving gifts because it often shows how “good” we are. On the flip side, it could also be said that how we receive gifts shows how good and worthy we believe ourselves to be. 

You may need to read that last sentence one more time. 

So how are you going to do today? Maybe Christmas isn’t a challenge for you. So, how about tomorrow with a compliment or gift of kindness? May I suggest you try on a new behavior? Try on the gift of receiving.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heaven.” 1 Chronicles 16:11

Speaking of gifts, I have one for you. It’s a simple exercise that will only take you a few moments but reap many benefits. Find a quiet place and write down all of the things you are good at. This may be difficult at first because we tend to spend most of every day telling ourselves how flawed we are. But God made you “very good,” and you need to remind yourself of it. If you get stuck, try listing just two things you are good at in these categories: Work – People – Family – Creativity – God – Talents. Ready Go!

Writing to you every week has been an incredible gift to me. Every idea God has given us has helped shape my life for the better. Thanks for coming along for the ride. I hope it’s been good for you too.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

In His service and at yours!

~Shawn

* Special thanks to my friend Kathy, Who taught me how to receive a gift.

Published by Shawn McCarthy

While serving as the Weekend Experience Pastor at Seacoast Church, I felt God prompting me to share the moments when He would speak His truth into my life through scripture in a way that made sense to me, giving me tangible ways to learn, grow and lead. These promptings turned into weekly emails that I would send my small groups and volunteer teams. I found myself enjoying the process of digging deeper into God’s Word, being stretched by the writing process, and encouraging others in the faith. My lovely wife, Anna, challenged me to begin this blog, so these moments that I have come to call, my “Red-Letter Moments,” can find a home. My prayer is that you will find hope, comfort, and inspiration here, and above all, you will come to know that the God of the universe loves you and desires a personal relationship with you.”

One thought on “Have a Very Good Christmas

  1. Thank you for “the ride”. What a wonderful gift you have given us this year. Thank you, for every message that has provoked our thinking and shown us your love for us. We love you and hopefully your messages will continue throughout 2022. Hugs

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