Let Earth Receive Her King: Merry Christmas From Rooted

Joy to the world, the Lord has come

Let earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare him room

And heav’n and nature sing,

And heav’n and nature sing,

And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing!

Stemming the tide of materialism and greed is never easy, but the flurry of gift-giving at Christmas can entice almost anyone to overindulge in stuff. Others of us are more tempted to scorn presents as evidence of rampant avarice. To be sure, commercialism has a crushing grip on our celebrations. We do well to be mindful of all the ways we are tempted to buy more than we need. However, when we misunderstand the essence of gift-giving, we misunderstand a beautiful embodiment of the gospel itself. 

Those of us who disciple teenagers (and children in general) strive to teach and model the words of Jesus, ”It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Because these words are true, we want kids to get it. Focusing on wish lists certainly can lead to worshipping things more than our unspeakably generous Father. RC Sproul wrote:

To present our friends and families with gifts is not an ugly, ignoble vice. It incarnates the amorphous “spirit of Christmas.” The tradition rests ultimately on the supreme gift God has given the world. God so loved the world, the Bible says, that He gave His only begotten Son. The giving of gifts is a marvelous response to the receiving of such a gift. For one day a year at least, we taste the sweetness inherent in the truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Marley and His Message to Scrooge, Ligonier.org

Our gift-giving flows from hearts made generous by love, and we are only capable of love because God first loved us through the gift of his Son (1 John 4:19). 

However, gift-giving is a two-step process. The gift is given, but it also must be received. 

When my husband became ill with cancer, I learned the humility of receiving. Suddenly I needed help with nearly everything: meals, cleaning, yard work, carpool, and errands. Embarrassed and apologetic, I accepted offer after offer of help with profuse thanks. Two dear friends would always respond, “no, thank YOU! We love you, and we want to help. You are giving us the gift of letting us care for you and your kids.” 

I didn’t like being needy; I prefer being strong and capable. I didn’t want to be in the receiving position, but that was my pride. It took a long time, but I began to understand what they were saying: I blessed them by allowing them to bless my family. Had I refused to receive, they would have missed the blessing of giving. 

My church’s mission statement begins with these words: “We exist to receive and proclaim the good news of Jesus…” The receiving precedes the proclaiming. Our pastor reminds us that before we can serve, or worship, or even love, we must first receive what God has done for us. There is no shame in accepting God’s gift; in fact, in receiving Christ, our shame is removed and God is glorified. He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves because he loves us. What as unspeakably marvelous gift is Jesus!

So yes, this Christmas, let us give as God leads, with wisdom and generosity. But as we sing, may we also prepare our hearts to receive Christ. And may we bless our families and friends and neighbors by humbly receiving the gifts of their love too.

Merry Christmas from your Rooted family! We pray you will have a joyful Christmas, always and everywhere receiving the love of Christ for you. We will return December 27, so be sure to check the blog next week for some “Best of 2024” posts. New content coming in the new year, so until then, God’s peace be with you.