Focus – Christmas Gift Giving
Christmas Gift Giving
By Major Anne Pickup
Christmas is a busy time…a fun time. A time for parties, kettles, family and friends. Christmas is a season filled with candles, music and gifts. Definitely gifts! I love giving gifts. I love receiving gifts. Christmas gift giving began with God who gave His Son Jesus, the greatest gift of all.
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well is familiar, but not usually linked to Christmas. Yet here is a story about gifts. Jesus was offering many gifts to this woman, and through her experience they are offered to us as well. Looking at the complete passage will reveal the gifts of God:
vs. 4-“He had to go through Samaria…” – No Jew purposely traveled through Samaria. Racial prejudices ran deep. Hatred and distrust divided them. For a Jew, the road from Jerusalem to Galilee took a wide swing around Samaria through the Jordan Valley. The only reason Jesus had to go through Samaria was because He had a divine appointment. Jesus didn’t care that this was a woman, and a woman from a different ethnic background who dressed, ate and worshiped differently from him. What he cared about was the person…and he had a valuable gift to give her. The first gift of God in Jesus is acceptance and the breaking down of barriers that separate.
vs. 13-14-“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst…” – The offer was not physical, wet water but water of a spiritual nature. Water that would finally quench the thirst of a dry, parched soul. The gift, symbolized in water, was Salvation. The invitation to drink of the cup of salvation had been heard before through the prophet Isaiah, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.”
vs. 16-19-“Go, call your husband and come back…” – Jesus boldly confronted the woman about her lifestyle. She was frequently in and out of marriage. At present she was living with a man outside the covenant of marriage. People caught in a cycle of broken relationships usually have deeply rooted emotional wounds based in negative past experiences. The invitation to get her husband was more an invitation to confront her own personal pain. Jesus offered the gift of himself in facing the hurts of the past. The challenge is to “Cast all your care on him, for he cares for you.” When you do the gift of God is the assurance of His comforting, healing presence.
vs. 21-24-“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth…” – Have you noticed when you are sharing the wonderful gift of Jesus that the discussion often turns to religion? How people worship-liturgy vs. spontaneity, choruses vs. hymns, acoustic vs. brass instruments-becomes a bigger issue than the One being worshiped! When Jesus permeated this woman’s heart she started talking religion. Jews and Samaritans disagreed over the place of worship. Jesus said the where and the how were inconsequential. The Who was what mattered! One of the gifts of God in Jesus is freedom in worship.
vs. 28-30-“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did…” – The woman, having received the gift of God, went into town to tell everyone about this remarkable man. When we get a wonderful, meaningful gift on Christmas, aren’t we anxious to share our joy? Are we as excited about sharing Christ? Strange, isn’t it, that we, who have received the greatest gift of all, seem so reluctant to share our joy? The reaction of the Samaritan woman reminds us that another gift of God is the joy of sharing the gift with others.