There is an obvious lesson in Christmas….it is good to give. We can make a case that by giving we model the example of Mary, Joseph and those gathered around the infant Jesus nurturing and watching over him as he entered the world in the most vulnerable of state. We can also rightfully know that when we give anything to another, especially the poor and those who are vulnerable, we are giving not only from a sense of a cold charity or even good will, but giving to Christ himself. And indeed Jesus has told us as much…..”did for one of the least of these.”
There is also another lesson to be had from the Nativity and it is for those who know themselves to already be giving people and especially for those who do not always think on the necessity of receiving. God was not content to remain in heaven, nor did he abhor the human state allowing himself to experience it even in the vulnerability of infancy. The first lesson we are taught by Jesus is it is good to receive for he himself was in a place where he had to receive much from his mother and those around her. The willingness to receive is a lesson we must learn to make sense of the cross itself.
The infant would soon enough be a man and our salvation would rest on our willingness to receive his gift from a place called Calvary. And it is not enough to say that this willingness to receive is from the place of saying we have no need for it, for we know the need is there. Rather our willingness to receive is to be had in spite of knowing the gift is too big a thing and thinking our gratitude is not enough for such a very great thing. Christ would have us think differently.
Grace is not about proper accounting, nor is about always being in the place of being a giver. In Bethlehem we learn it is not enough to be only the good hearted person always willing to give. If we are to be as Christ we must be willing to receive. We must receive the good gifts of life and all those beautiful and necessary things from those who are Christ to us and ultimately as Christmas fades and his journey to the cross begins, we must be ready to receive the greatest gift ever.