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11.21.10 Give Relationally, John 1:1-14, Matthew 1:18-23 Sermon Summary

by on November 22, 2010

There are two ways to transform the way you experience Christmas this year. Give relational gifts, and give gifts to God.

The doctrine of the Incarnation, the church’s teaching that the Word of God became flesh in Jesus Christ, is one of the Christian teachings that is unique among religious doctrines. But just what is God’s Word? Christians naturally turn to the Bible for a testimony of God’s Word. In the first few chapters of the Bible we find God’s Word is creative and invitational. Later we receive promises, comfort, assurance, and encouragement in God’s Word. God’s Word provides purpose, direction, guidance, and protection to those who receive it. In Christ, God’s Word is definitively loving and forgiving. Throughout the biblical testimony, we recognize that God’s Word is responsive and faithful. In a single word, God’s Word is relational.

The “Prologue” John’s Gospel, chapter 1, says that God’s Word became flesh. From Matthew’s perspective, the presence of Jesus is “Emmanuel,” “God with us.” The Bible teaches that God himself is with us in the presence of God’s Word. That is why, when the faithful gather as the church, we listen to ancient testimonies (Scripture) and re-enact ancient rituals (Sacraments), because they convey to us God’s relational Word and presence.

But in the Incarnation, the Word and presence of God came to us in a unique and authoritative way (Hebrews 1:1-4). When God wanted to give of himself, to give most relationally, his Word became flesh in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And today still, Jesus Christ can be born again, and God’s children can manifest the presence of God, when we do as God did in Christ—when we give of ourselves, when we give relationally (John 1:12-13).

Christmas is the time to remember that God gave a relational gift, and that we also can give relational gifts. But we get distracted from this opportunity of giving relational gifts by the process of giving ANY gift. And more, we spend money in various amounts, large and small, on gifts that require no thought, that are anything but relational. And worst of all, we give gifts to one another without any consideration of the gift God has given us. Our Christmas celebrations resemble what it would be like if the Magi came from East, arrived at the house where Jesus was with his family, and then gave the gold, frankincense, and myrrh they had carried across the desert to one another.

Imagine how Christmas gift giving would be transformed if we gave relational gifts! What would it look like today to give gifts to Jesus Christ instead of to one another?

When we give relational gifts, we give something valuable because it costs more in terms of thoughtfulness. Gifts that demonstrate love are valuable gifts. Gifts that are merely costly do not necessarily convey love. In fact, they can be a gesture devoid of love because they required no thought.

Instead of giving thoughtless gifts that no one needs, gifts that will be forgotten, unused, regifted, or thrown away, why not give a gift this Christmas that you can be proud of giving, forever? When I asked my Facebook friends about their most meaningful Christmas gifts, I got interesting responses. A couple of people asked if it had to be a Christmas gift. It suggests the time to give and receive meaningful gifts is other than Christmas. How far we have gotten from the relational giving of God!

But others testified of handmade or hand designed jewelry, photo collections, and highly symbolic, well-researched gifts. Someone sent me a poem she had written. I imagine if she handwrote that poem on parchment and put it in a nice frame, it would be more “valuable” to the recipient than any “costly” gift. My wife has observed this Christmas that she feels a special attachment to the gifts she’s making for others. That’s because they are relational gifts—they express her time and creativity. For other ideas of relational gifts, look at

What about giving gifts to Christ this Christmas? I’ll go into this more next week, but our church has entered into several partnerships to allow you to give gifts to others that at the same time give to God. One way you can do it is to purchase a Faith Presbyterian Church Christmas Card (I suggest $10/card). You write a check to Faith, and we give you a card outlining the 5 charitable organizations we will send your donation to. Then you give this card to someone. It tells them of your desire to give a meaningful, lasting gift, one that reflects the heart of God at Christmas.

Another partner we have is Trade as One (see We’re ordering Trade as One gift card packs you can use to give a meaningful gift to someone this Christmas. Or you can just do it yourself on their website.

Next week I’ll talk about where Christ is born again every day. But this Christmas, let Christ be born again in you by giving relational gifts, just as God gave himself to you. Amen.

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