We’ll take a break from the Psalms of Ascent for today; there is one left, and we’ll look at it tomorrow, God willing. For today, let’s look at The gift we give by receiving There would be no Christmas without Christ. We all know that. Sure there are many festivals this time of year. The pagans saw the shortest day of the year at the winter solstice, December 21, and started doing things like burning Yule logs to try to encourage the sun to shine a little longer each day; or was it in anticipation of longer days and shorter nights ahead? Without doing some research, I'm not prepared to say that any of these festivals particularly involved gift giving. However, when Christ came, God started the gift giving that we reflect when we give each other gifts at this time of year when we celebrate the birth of Christ. God says in John 3 "16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. " God gave the gift of His son. We can receive His gift, or reject it. John 1: "11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name." Some people received his Gift, some rejected Christ. Now, when I get things to give to people, I like to make sure they are useful, or will be cherished by the receiver. Seeing their eyes light up, their big smile, and the big "thank you" makes my day. Sometimes I get the "Uh...thank you. What's it for?" and I have to explain how useful that paracord bracelet I made for them really could be. God's gift to us is useful. His Son came into the world to be with us, and to die on the cross to purchase forgiveness for our sins. That frees us from guilt, and gains us eternal life if we receive His gift. Receiving His gift means we have the right to become His children, citizens of His Kingdom. People pay a lot of money and put a lot of effort to become legal citizens of the US or UK; citizenship in a country is something that is earned. But citizenship in God's Kingdom is a free gift. The gifts we give each other will be outgrown, wear out, break, go out of style, get lost. But God's gift to us of new life in Christ will never do any of those things. His gift is eternal. Sometimes we start thinking things like, "Uncle Charlie gave me this brand new rifle, and I only got a pair of slippers for him", or, I really went out of my way to find this expensive gift for aunt Tilly, and all she could get me was this measly T-shirt?" The guilt of not giving enough, or of giving too much sometimes spoils the giving. There is a tremendous inequity between what God gives us and what we have to offer back to God. David realised this when he was writing Psalm 116. He said "12 What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me? 13 I shall lift up the cup of salvation And call upon the name of the Lord." God has given me a lot of benefits: He has given me this freedom from guilt, and a new membership in His family. He has given me eternal life. So what can I give back to Him? I really can't give anything back to Him. All I can do is keep receiving from Him. I lift the cup of salvation, and keep calling on His name. So we remember God's gift to us at this time of year by giving each other presents. May God bless us as we remember the Gift He gave us at this time of year, and keep receiving from Him.