I ran my hand along the brittle packaging tape, making sure the dusty box wouldn’t fall apart in my arms. Just another December duty–or so I thought.
As I stashed my package in the passenger seat, I rubbed my hands together, trying to find feeling in my chilled fingers. Retrieving my mom’s Christmas dishes from storage had become another item to simply check off on my seemingly never-ending holiday list.
I needed to move from the obligation of Christmas to the wonder of Jesus.
After I unloaded my box from the car, I reverently opened it to discover Mom’s dishes. Delicate evergreen holly accented with crimson berries encircled each place setting. She had loved them so.
I suddenly realized this was not a duty, it was an act of honor. When I served a meal on her dishes, she still had her place at our table.
A sacred space of acknowledgement.
I traced the golden rim of a napkin holder, as I realized I needed to prepare room for one more.
Where will we seat Jesus at our table this Christmas?
He’s there under the avalanche of Christmas wrapping and festive bows. He shines on the light of our trees. He’s in our favorite hymns. But how do we really, truly keep a designated place for Him?
We follow His lead. Jesus connected with those he loved by sharing a table with them. Banquets and feasts were prominent in sealing friendships, celebrating victories, and commemorating joyous occasions.
We have a picture of Jesus as a host in Matthew 14:19 (NIV) And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.
- Blessing (Giving thanks for God’s provision)
- Breaking (Dividing)
- Giving (Sharing a portion of the gifts we receive)
We see His intimate interaction with his disciples at the Last Supper using the same exact pattern. After his resurrection, He spent a day on the road to Emmaus with two of his disciples and they didn’t recognize Him until they began to eat. Once again, He gave thanks, broke the bread, and gave it to them. This order can be found in nine different scriptures and all four gospels.
You may be at a point in your Christmas preparation where things are becoming financially burdensome. You may begin to question, why even give gifts at Christmas? Isn’t it supposed to be about Jesus? How do I make Christmas special with what I have? Scripture provides an answer using Jesus’ teaching to give because we are blessed by Our Heavenly Father. When we give to others from the position of abundance and thankfulness, miracles happen.
First, we thank God for all that we have received because all that we have is a gift from our good and gracious Heavenly Father.
Next, we take what God has given us and we break it into portions.
Finally, we give.
When this happens, our beneficiary is blessed, they divide, and in turn they give—continuing the cycle, creating a principle of multiplication. It is here we discover that in God’s household there is always enough if we share it. Jesus isn’t saying give more than what you have, He’s simply saying give a portion of what you have been blessed with, and your generosity will become joy-filled.
I really didn’t understand this until that December day, as I looked at the dishes from my mother. I simply asked Jesus to show me how to give Him a seat at our table at Christmas.
At first, His answer wasn’t easy for me to consider. I resisted. I prayed. I cried.
And then I followed His lead.
- I thanked God for the beautiful years I spent with my mother. I told Him how blessed I was with her wisdom, her care, and her commitment to our family. I asked God if He remembered every Christmas she made sure that her children had gifts under the tree, even when she was single, and the best we could do in return were humble homemade gifts for her. I expressed my appreciation that she took us to church every Christmas Eve.
- I looked at mom’s Christmas dishes and decided that this would be their last celebration on my table.
- And then I called my daughter and two daughters-in-law. I gave them each a set of my mom’s dishes, so they would be blessed, too.
As I lit the candles and surveyed the table one last time, I silently thanked God for providing me with an understanding that would secure my joy for many holidays to come. When we truly hold a place for Jesus in our Christmas, our obligations fade and we reconnect with the wonder of God’s greatest gift to humanity.
Dear Heavenly Father,
At times during this holiday season, Your Presence gets buried beneath the lights, wrapping paper, and packages. We get so caught up in the worry of gift giving that we lose sight of the most precious gift you gave to us. You sent us Jesus, fully God and fully man to walk this earth with us. He understands everything we are walking through this holiday season. By His death and resurrection on the cross, we have a place in eternity with You that is not jeopardized by the things we do or don’t do in the world. Lord Jesus, may Your gift of grace be what we cling to and share with others during this season. May we receive Your ultimate gift with joyful and thankful hearts as we celebrate Christmas around the table with You this year.