I imagine that there are many beautifully wrapped gifts like this one under your Christmas tree at home. Have you looked at the packages to see how many of them have your name on them? Have you tried to guess what might be in those packages? Do you ever sneak in when mom and dad aren't around and shake and squeeze the packages trying to figure out what might be inside? I must confess that I did that when I was a child. All right, maybe I still do it, but not as much as I once did.
When I was a child checking the presents under the tree, I wasn't the least bit interested in the gifts that had other people's names on them, I was only interested in the ones that were for me. Isn't it pretty much the same with most of us? Much of the time, we think only of ourselves. Is that the real spirit of Christmas?
In our Bible lesson today, we read that many people had heard John calling them to repent of their sins and be baptized so that they would be ready for the coming Messiah. Large crowds of people were coming to be baptized by John. John said to them, "First do something to show that you have really repented of your sin."
"What should we do?" the people asked.
"If you have two coats, give one to someone who doesn't have one. If you have food, share it with someone else." In other words, John was saying, "Stop thinking only of yourself and start thinking about others."
Christmas is only a few days away. How much thought have we given to what we can do for others during the Christmas season? We have been given so much... shouldn't we share what we have with others who may not have as much? What are some ways that we can do that? There are many wonderful organizations which help people who have special needs. (The Salvation Army, Angel Tree, and Operation Christmas Child, for example.) We can give to help them help others. We can give to mission offerings in our own church which help those in need. (There may be food or clothing drives going on in your own church or community that you might mention here to make the message more relevant to your own situation.)
Sharing with others — that's the spirit — the spirit of Christmas. Let's all show the true spirit of Christmas this year!
Father, as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour, help us to remember those who are in need of food, shelter, and clothing. We are reminded that Jesus himself taught us that when we do something to help those in need, it is the same as doing it for him. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.