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“Symbols of the Season: Christmas Gifts”
Matthew 2:11


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Advent Service III—December 16, 2009

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
But, when December doth arrive,
Kids can’t count past 25.

Part of the joy of the Advent-Christmas season is looking forward with anticipation to giving and receiving presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  This evening we continue our Advent-Christmas sermon series on “Symbols of the Season” by looking at the custom of Christmas gifts.

This tradition began in the Bible, with the precious gifts of the Wise Men: “And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”  We give and receive Christmas gifts as a reminder of: the gifts we receive from God; and, like the Wise Men, the gift we give to God. 

God gives us the gift of his Word, the Bible.  In his Word, God proclaims to us the Law, the bad news that we do not deserve any good gifts from God.  For we are sinners, evil and unclean, deserving only what our sins have earned us, as Paul says in Romans, “the wages of sin is death.”

“But, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  That is the Good News of God’s Word, the Gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

At Christmas we celebrate God giving us the first and greatest Christmas gift, his Son, who came into our world as the Babe of Bethlehem.  He was born for you, to live, and die, and rise again, to earn for you the gift of God, eternal life through Jesus Christ your Lord.

On account of his birth, life, death, and resurrection, God forgives you all your sins.  As Paul says in Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

God gives us the gift of Holy Baptism, as St. Paul says in Titus, “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”  God made you born again as his child through this “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”  Your sins were washed away, and faith planted in your heart, faith to trust in Christ, your Savior.  “It is the gift of God.”

God gives us the gift of Holy Communion, “Given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.”  In, with, and under the bread and wine, Christ gives you his body and blood, spiritual nourishment for your soul, to strengthen and preserve you steadfast in the true faith unto life everlasting.

His Son, your Savior; his Word and Sacraments; those are God’s most precious gifts to you. And we receive so many other wonderful gifts from God.  As Martin Luther says in the Small Catechism, “He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still preserves them; also clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods . . . He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.”  Thanks be to God for his marvelous gifts!

Now, like the Wise Men, what gift will you give in return to God?  Gold, frankincense, myrrh?  No, something far more precious and priceless even than these treasures: you will give to God your heart. 

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be,
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

As you give and receive Christmas gives this season, remember with thanks the precious, priceless gifts of God, who gave his only-begotten Son for your salvation, and who gives you so many other blessings.  And remember your gift to your Savior: yourself, your life, your heart.

Christmas gifts, a Symbol of the Season.

Amen.

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