Belgic Confession: Article 1
We all believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that there is a single and simple spiritual being, whom we call God — eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, unchangeable, infinite, almighty; completely wise, just, and good, and the overflowing fountain of all good.
How you approach Christmas and Thanksgiving says a lot about your view of God the Father. The kind of God you believe in will show up in what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. We see the world around us abuse these two holidays and we wonder how to react. Unfortunately, for many Christians they believe the proper way to put Christ back into Christmas is to become Scrooge. But when they do this they are lying about God. God gives. He has always given.
He gave us a garden where everything was a “yes” except one tree.
He gave Noah a new world.
He gave Abraham a promise of sons, families, and nations.
He gave Israel a land flowing with milk and honey.
He gave Israel a king in glory.
He gave the Word which brings life and rejoicing.
He gave us snow, rain, thunder, lightening, the sun, the stars, spiders, whales, llamas, toads, coal, trees as tall as skyscrapers, canyons as deep as skyscrapers, oceans miles deep, and hearts that beat.
He gave men who made cars, planes, movies, smartphones, computers, houses, guns, toys, books, pens, coffee, pancakes, and underwear.
He gave delight and pleasure and joy.
He gave so we might work again.
He gave so we might rejoice in our labor and the fruits of our labor.
He gave his only Begotten Son to deliver us from the wrath to come.
He gave his only Begotten Son to those who hate Him.
He gave his only Begotten Son so we might have abundant life. If you think this is about your heart only you missed the point.
He gave us his Spirit, poured out on us so we might be new creatures
He gave so we could be naked and not ashamed.
He gave so we could drink beer with a smile and with deep joy.
He gave so we could eat a second piece of pie without worry.
He gave so we could be free.
He gave so we might stop working.
He gave so our bodies might rise from the ground with tongues that taste, ears that hear, noses that smell, hands that touch, and feet that dance.
He gave so we might be glorified.
He gave so we might give.
He did not give with a pursed lip.
He did not give reminding us to not enjoy it too much. “Make sure you don’t get too excited.”
He did not just give to our spirits.
He did not give just enough. He gave abundantly. Imagine if He gave one star? One snowflake?
He did not give to make us feel guilty.
He did not give to get.
How then shall we live? In light of God’s open hand how can we reflect his character?
Give thanks. This means prayers of thanks. It means giving thanks for all who came before us. But it means a lot more than that. Eat your turkey with glad hearts. Laugh. Tell jokes. Take a sip of beer and smile. Rest in the work of Christ by sleeping soundly in your recliner filled to the brim with turkey. Then get up and have some more. Delight in the world God has made by watching football or better yet playing football. If there is snow, sled, come in drink hot chocolate, and then sled again. What about Jesus you say? But when you ask that question that way you miss the point that for the Christian Jesus is in these things. Christ came to save us. But a saved man enjoys what he is given by Jesus. Yes, he gives thanks for Christ, the cross, His Word, worship, and all those good things. Because he gives thanks for Christ and the Cross he also enjoys his daily bread. All things can be received with thanksgiving (I Timothy 4:4-5) because God was manifested in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16). The man who frowns over the good gifts of God is no better than the man who abuses those gifts. You don’t honor Jesus by pretending the gifts weren’t given or by refusing to enjoy them.
Give stuff. Some can give more. Some can give less. But give. Give presents and stockings. Give candy, turkeys, hams, pies, toys, Legos, wine, and cigars. Oh and books, give lots of books. Give memories your children will look back on with joy. Give traditions your children with take with them. Give the gift of delight and pleasure. Give Christ, in word yes, but also in action. Give your children your time. Give your wife an evening in bed…with you having just showered. Sing and make merry. Put on music and not just Handel’s Messiah, though of course you should do that. Give lights strung up in your children’s bedrooms and leave them on all night. Stay up late and watch Elf or Its a Wonderful Life or A Charlie Brown Christmas or whatever your family enjoys. Give a feast or go to a feast. If you are not married, go to your family’s Christmas party bearing gifts for parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews. Hold one of the little ones on Thanksgiving. Play in the yard with the young boys in your family. Give gifts to your friends and folks at church. Give of your time, your money, your energy and yourself. Give and then give some more.
Christ came so a people could be formed into his image, a people filled with joy, and overflowing with gifts. As good children let us imitate our Father this holiday season.