Word of the Month

The greatest gift

December 2004

Even if we did not receive a single gift for Christmas, we would still have cause to rejoice. After all, God has given us the greatest gift conceivable: He gave us His Son for our redemption. Jesus Christ became human, brought His sacrifice to save mankind, resurrected from the dead, and ascended into heaven. And He has promised to come again and take His own into eternal glory. Could there be any better gift?

Already the prophet Micah announced the coming of the Saviour: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5: 2). This promise was fulfilled centuries later when the angels - within hearing of the shepherds in Bethlehem's open fields - sang their praises: "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2: 11).

When Micah boasts that Christ's "goings forth are from of old, from everlasting," this also applies to our election. Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians: "... He chose us in Him [Jesus Christ] before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1: 4). When was that? Before the creation of heaven and earth! If we think about this for a moment, we will feel very small and humble-and we will praise God's wonders.

There is no Christmas gift more beautiful than God's love. In the activity of the sacraments He offers us joy, peace, and redemption. Let us grasp these gifts of grace, and let us thank Him by giving Him the gift of our whole heart. Let us bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. When these are revealed, we can look forward to a wonderful harvest, which will take place at the return of Jesus Christ. Then we will no longer celebrate a "holy night," but rather a "holy day" - the day of the Lord - when He will take His bridal congregation home to the marriage of the Lamb. Thereupon He will establish His kingdom of peace and reign with the royal priesthood. Then there will finally be peace on earth!

(From a divine service by the chief apostle)