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AN – EK – DEE – AY – GAY – TOS

Most people are already doing their Christmas shopping. Funny how even Christians get caught up in this. Spending many hundreds on their children and others in a frenzy of . . . giving? Lots of people don’t like it if you talk about it negatively. And they get upset if you talk about Christmas too positively, also. You know — the Gospel, the Incarnation, the real Gift for sinners.

What do you give to people who’ve got everything? I mean to say, the expression that really characterizes our age (I don’t know who coined it) is: “Too much is definitely not enough!” Every TV ad and every shopkeeper in the country (nowadays–in the world?) will be pulling us into the secular Christmas maelstrom once again, with that very motto. And we’ll sail into it.

We–the people who have everything. Everything necessary, that is. Bible words echo in our mortal frames: “All things are yours” . . . “you are enriched in every way” . . . ” that you through His poverty might become rich.” And it all boils down to one particular Gift. Martin Franzmann describes the above title word (from the Greek) as pertaining to that “grace, greater than man’s words can tell.” In 2 Corinthians 9:15 the NKJV uses the word “indescribable.”

You’ve got that grace. But if you are a typical Lutheran, you don’t realize how much you’ve got. Why look through a narrow slit in the wall when God gives you a big picture window? Why ride a motor scooter when God provides a limo? Why stay in kindergarten when God bestows a free university education? You men — read the whole paper, not just the sports pages! Follow me?

If someone receives a gift, birthday or Christmas or whatever, and fails to open it, and eventually returns it (I’ve see that happen!), you would say that the recipient hates the donor. Now, I don’t mean to insult you. But as a testimony to the Old Adam still in you, there’s a certain degree of hatred and enmity towards God that holds you back from opening the various gracious gifts He gives in Word and Sacrament. Admit it! We tend to be “closet Gospel-reductionists,” while condemning those who profess it openly. All we need to now is John 3:16, and we’re all right, as if there are no more things to learn, no more gifts to open. Shame on you. Especially you men.

It Keeps Giving

You have heard something about “a gift that keeps on giving.” Only the Bible is like that. It keeps pouring out, delivering, opening up its pages and passages, to divulge marvelous truths and concepts, invigorating decrees and statutes. I remember the president of our synod once preaching on the doctrine of election, declaring the comfort it contains for our mission outreach–the work it saves us, by the work it gives us as already done! What a relief for Word-bearers!

All the things we call “hard sayings” are really gifts. Did you ever look at it that way? Or have you begun to complain about the Bible concepts of fellowship, male suffrage, and close communion, as our synod moves ahead in time, farther away from its roots and beginnings? How about the gift of mission outreach, centered in the Office of the Keys? God right here gives us something to DO with our lives, inside and outside the congregation, for once and for all. We don’t have to sit around as though we are unemployed, idle, workshops fit for the devil, working and living for him, spending time and money on earthly gifts when we have heavenly gifts to bestow and share.

Speaking of the devil, there’s a real gift-bearer! He sends a messenger (an angel!) to buffet us. And all this under God’s gracious ruling, all of it under the cross of Christ, where we live. Have you receive this gift lately? Ever discovered how Job opened it? Or Paul?

The danger in all this is that through neglect or abuse we should lose the gifts. And the Gift. And with that the ability to express our faith, halting as our expressing might be.

So–get ready for Christmas, O Christian! Take the real gifts, and give them out. As someone has said: “Keep the faith, baby, but not to yourself!”

The Church is Christ’s Bride, His dear Lady . . . His “Baby” if you will. She has packages of love to distribute in your neighborhood. Don’t just sit there. Get going. Because Christmas is coming!

And because those Christmas angels are getting ready to sing their next big song, on Resurrection Day. Now, there’s an inexpressible thought. We live in the realm of “an-ek-dee-ay-gay-tos”–that’s the thrill of it. Man, get a gift!

— Pastor Warren Fanning