An Advent Message from Rev. Jim Bass

Thu, November 29, 2018
The Christmas season is now upon us. Thanksgiving leftovers are finally (hopefully) all gone. Christmas carols and songs are playing on the radio and in the stores non-stop. Homes are decorated and prepared for the season. It is a joyous time of the year!

Christmas has been called the season of giving. The favorite Christmas song about Santa Claus sums it up: “He's making a list and checking it twice, Gonna find out who's naughty and nice.” Hopefully, there will be no lumps of coal in our stockings! We too are checking our lists to find that perfect gift for our loved ones. And so, we join the crowds of people searching for Black Friday bargains or clicking page after page on Amazon searching for the perfect Cyber Monday deals.

Too often the season of giving has just become the season of buying. Christmas is one of the top two retail shopping seasons of the year, generating roughly $680 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. And although most Americans will spend the equivalent of at least an entire paycheck this holiday season, nearly a third of consumers don’t include the costs in their budget. We spend an average of $967 for items such as decorations, gifts, and festive foodstuffs during the holiday season, not including travel expenses to visit family. There is nothing wrong with wanting to give gifts to our loved ones. Indeed, it is a good thing.

For us as Christians the giving of gifts reflects God’s greatest gift in sending Jesus into the world to save and redeem us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life.” The Bible teaches that God is a giving God. And God’s gift was the costliest gift ever given! As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we will look at the gift God has given and what that means for each of us.

This Sunday is Commitment Sunday. You should have received a financial commitment card in the mail the week before Thanksgiving. As we come forward, to receive the gift of bread and wine and remember what Jesus has done for us, I invite you to bring your card forward with you as an act of worship. Much like the Magi, who brought the Christ Child gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, we bring Him gifts of our life and labor, so that we can continue to make a Kingdom difference in our community in His name.