Christmas and the New Year are times for gifts and new things. And while the materialistic culture around us would like to focus on bright, shiny, new toys for women, men, girls and boys, the beauty of the season from Christianity’s perspective are the gifts that last forever. We believe the best gifts are the eternal ones that come from God. The gifts believers celebrate are the gifts that out-sparkle anything under the tree or even “behind the desk by the wall” when all other packages have been opened. They are gifts that are often unseen yet fill our deepest yearnings and work themselves out in what we do see.
God promised His people a savior in the Tanakh, or Old Testament, and on Christmas day so many years ago, He delivered that promise wrapped in swaddling clothes. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob gave the gift of His son, Jesus, on Christmas, and He did it in a way only He could do—through a miraculous conception, turned humble birth, in a lowly barn. Christ Jesus was the gift that changed the face of the world forever. He is a gift being offered to you this Christmas season. Will you accept, unwrap and treasure this gift?
Another amazing gift believers celebrate on Christmas is the gift of faith. Faith in the cross work of Christ, packaged with grace, is the best gift you could ever receive. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and it is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8). This verse makes it clear that faith is a gift from God. You can’t earn faith or work enough to get it, it must be given to you as a gift. It is a gift that I have come to treasure more and more each year, especially as I reflect on how much I deserve eternal coal instead. Faith is a gift that makes everything else—including that sweet luxury car with the red bow on it, in the snowy driveway, with the thrilled lady jumping with joy at the sight of her gift—look strangely dim.
There is another gift from God that is on my heart this season. It is the gift of a healthy small group. God gives believers this small group gift as a place to work out our faith in community and serve those around us. He gives this gift to those not quite sure about Him yet, as a place to see His people in action and hear who He really is, so that a decision can be made.
In a small group, you get the gift of a loving community that helps you through life’s hills and valleys. You will feel the presence of God as you open up His word and unpack its riches. The contents of a healthy small group gift will satisfy your deep longing for community. It is a gift you will want to share with others as you get out and make a difference in the world.
Now that all the packages under the tree are opened, I’d like to share one more gift with you this season—the gift of small group. Perhaps accepting this gift could be your New Year’s resolution? This small group gift is being offered to everyone reading this, especially those who are cautiously curious about small groups or Christianity in general. At Aspen Ridge, we have sermon-based small groups, topical and fun small group gifts like snowshoeing and ice-skating. Let’s talk about which small group gift has your name written all over it!
Small group wrapper,
Eric Krajewski, Director of Small Groups