Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas Day, Year B

Inspired by Titus 3:4-7

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:4-5 (NRSV)

The way Christmas is celebrated in much of the United States today has little to do with the religious holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ our Savior. Santa Claus has supplanted Jesus Christ as the primary figure, consumption and consumerism stand in for celebration, and even the name ‘Christmas’ is losing out to the more politically correct ‘Holidays.’

There is one way, however, that even the most secular, consumerist version of the ‘Holidays’ conveys an important point about the Christian Christmas celebration: the reckless generosity of flagrant gift-giving. The gift of his Son was God’s generosity and mercy run amok; sinful humanity had done nothing to deserve a gift of such value. But God gave us his Son out of the abundance of his love and grace—and that love and grace is still in abundance today.

While secular holiday gift-giving often feeds feelings of greed, entitlement, and false pride, it is a way in which even those things that seem to work against Christianity can still reveal a truth about the real meaning of Christmas. Whatever the motivations, even the secular ‘Holidays’ can remind us that Christmas is the result of God’s reckless generosity and flagrant gift of his Son.

Let us pray. Merciful God, you sent us your Son not because we deserved such a gift, but because we needed it. On this day of celebration, let each wrapped present remind us of your abundant generosity, that we may use our gifts in the world to meet the needs of others. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.