The text for the carol service sermon is found in 2 Corinthians 9:15 (‘Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!’) During the evening, we explored the Christmas story through a variety of readings:

We also had another gift to unwrap:

Each layer revealed a gift that God has given us:

Some of the gifts God has given us were explored:
1) Grace
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”(Ephesians 2:8-9)
We don’t earn God’s grace, but receive it freely as we do with any gift.

2) Eternal life
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
The reason we need a gift from God is because life has been messed up and we can’t find our way back to the God who made us and loves us on our own. Because of the wrongdoing of every person, because there is sin in our hearts even before we actually do anything wrong, what will come to us as a wage, as the rightful consequence of how we live, is death. Christmas shows us the start of God’s rescue plan, the arrival of His Son, Jesus, whose sacrifice for our sins leads us to eternal life.

3) Redemption & forgiveness
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:7-8)
We can be forgiven and can have a new life. Jesus has bought us back, paid a ransom for us, so that we can enter into a new relationship with God without any of the baggage of our old way of life. We are free from sin, completely forgiven by a gracious and loving God.

4) Peace with God
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5:1)
The angels proclaimed “on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:14) Despite the wars and lack of peace even today, God offers us primarily peace with Him which leads to us becoming peace-makers and spreading that peace in the world around us.

5) Hope
“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)
Romans 15:13 says that God is the God of hope. Because He is the God of hope, He is able to give hope to us. He says we can ‘overflow with hope’. He says that the hope He gives us will not disappoint us or put us to shame (Romans 5:5) That hope goes beyond the now and extends into life beyond this life on earth to eternal life that can never end. Paul says that if we only have hope for this life, we are to be pitied (1 Cor 15:19), but we are reminded in Titus 3:7 that we have the hope of eternal life. The hope God gives us means we never give up or despair, even when things may not seem to be going well for us. The hope of salvation is like a helmet to us (1 Thess 5:8), protecting our minds and thoughts. Christmas is God’s reminder to us that when things seem utterly bleak and without any hope, God is able to step into the situation and change things around. We may not know what 2013 holds for us, but we can enter the New Year with hope because the God of hope is with us.

6) Glory
Ultimately, God just doesn’t give us peace, joy, love and hope. The message of Christmas is that He gives us Himself and that means there is the hope of glorious things to come. Col 1:27 tells us “The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory.” When we receive Christ as Saviour, He comes to live in us. Christmas is all about God’s indescribable gift of Jesus and we were urged to unwrap this gift daily to find out more about the life God gives us and the glorious things He promises us.