Love (Ardent Series)
By Fr Michael Sorial
Gifts are very prevalent in the new testament. In the new testament, you hear the word “gift” 50 times. However, there’s two different words for the word “gift” in the new testament.The first one is “charisma” and the second one is “doron,” and so, we’ve been talking about these gifts that God has been giving us over the Advent period. He’s given us the gift of peace, the gift of hope and the gift of love. In the new testament, these two Greek words for gift have important meanings – one of them is God giving to us, and one is us, responding to God. Charisma is from God, so this is God giving to us, and doron is us giving to God or others. Usually God will give us a charisma, he will pour out a spiritual gift on us and our response back to Him is to give a doron. The word “Theodorous” or “Tawadrous” for instance, means gift of God, Theo meaning God and doron is gift, so it’s a gift of God – he sees his life as a gift offered back to God. God gives us a gift, and we respond by giving gifts to Him, or giving gifts back to others.
Usually, when we say charisma, it specifically signifies a divine gift and a doron is usually something that’s given to God or others in order to honour them, or to say thank you. So what makes Christmas the greatest story ever, I believe, has to do with the fact that Christ gave us the greatest gift of all! The first Christmas gift He gave was God Himself, giving His Son to us. It’s not just the first, most expensive gift… it’s also the greatest, it’s the most needed, it was a gift that we didn’t know that we needed… this is what makes it the greatest gift of all. You may have been to football games where you see John 3:16 on posters, what does it say?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whomever should believe in Him should not perish but should have everlasting life”
God so LOVED, so that he GAVE – because of God’s love for us, He gave His Son. In Romans 8:32, we’re told that St Paul says that He did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him, freely give us all things? The key word is “with Him,” so what St Paul is saying is that He didn’t spare His own Son, because He loved us, He gave us His only begotten Son, so that with Him, He would freely give us all things. In other words, the gifts of peace and hope and joy and love and glory – and all the different spiritual gifts like the fruit of the spirit – those are the things that come along with the greatest gift, Jesus himself. If you’ve ever seen those gifts where there’s a box within a box, within a box, within a box – that’s kind of what it is. The big gift is Jesus and inside of that big gift, there’s a bunch of other small gifts. Jesus is the greatest gift, He is the gift that is most precious, He’s the most expensive gift that there is.
But… within that gift, there are other small gifts!
“Seek first the kingdom of God and all righteousness and all these things will be added onto you”
So the great gift is Jesus Christ. We are often told that the spirit of Christmas, is all about gift-giving. From a Christian perspective, I would argue that it’s not all about giving, it’s also about receiving – but not just receiving any ordinary gift, it’s about receiving God’s gift of Jesus Christ. The spirit of Christmas is about receiving the greatest gift, which is Jesus Christ Himself. We tend to think that the Spirit of Christmas is all about giving gifts to others which they’ll really like, but what the spirit of Christmas is actually about, is receiving the great gift, because He so loved the world that He “gave” – and what do we do? – We “receive” that gift, we say this is for me, this is mine. We do this as part of the church’s liturgical annual cycle, to remind us that this is an ongoing reality, that Jesus came to earth to share the gift of His love with each of us.
There’s a poem that was written in 1885 by Christina Rossetti and she was attempting to express what Christmas meant to her:
“Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, Love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.”
What an absolutely beautiful image of Christmas! That Christmas, is love incarnate, it’s Jesus who we worship, He offers Himself as a gift and token to alll humanity. The reason why we give gifts on Christmas, is because God began the tradition by giving His Son to us, and so we respond back. We respond as the wise man responded, coming immediately to give a gift back, to honour the King who was incarnate. He comes to give us Himself – God with us, and they respond with a doron, and we follow this ever since.