All for One and One for All
Advent Devotional, UTC Wesley Foundation
1 Thessalonians 5: 12-28
Christmas is all about giving gifts, right? “Well no,” you might say, in your most refined Sunday School voice, “Christmas is about the birth of Christ!”
And right you are! Christmas is about the birth of Christ! But let’s be honest; in America, for good or bad, Christmas is also about giving and receiving gifts (mostly receiving…we only give in hopes that we will get more). So how do we reconcile the two? How do we celebrate the birth of Christ, and fulfill the expectations of friends and family for gifts, gifts, gifts? During this Advent season, we have an opportunity to consider just that. I think one thing we can do to prepare to welcome the Christ-child this Christmas is to consider how our identity as Christian disciples might be lived out through our giving and receiving of gifts. This passage from 1 Thessalonians certainly points us in the right direction.
“And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.” There are people out there who need our gifts, Paul says. The idle need some warning, the faint-hearted need some encouragement, the weak need support, they all need our patience, and every person needs to be offered the goodness and love of Christ.
Have you got a friend who’s not so sure about this whole Christian thing? This Christmas, give him the gift of your testimony. Do you have a family member who’s struggling to make it; fighting disease or unemployment or addiction? This Christmas offer her your unwavering support. There are millions of people out there who feel like the whole world is against them. You could be the person who shows them that they matter, and that Christ is on their side. What greater gifts could we possibly offer? God in Christ Jesus has already given himself for us, and that’s part of what we celebrate each Christmas! So this Christmas, let’s remember the Greatest Gift we have ever been given, and let’s offer that same gift to others. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all. Amen.
Loving God, we wait with patience even while we are eager to change the world around us. Loosen our hands and our hearts, that the gifts we give this Christmas season might flow freely and abundantly from your Great Gift, our Savior Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
 1 Thessalonians 5: 14-15 (NRSV)