In introductory college courses, we are encouraged to involve our students as much as possible. Thus, in this Season of Advent, I asked my students (who come from diverse backgrounds) to tell me what they remember about their first Christmas celebration. Two items came to the top of their lists – gifts and lots of good food. They told me about the first gift or gifts that they remember receiving and the enjoyment that they had with their small family, extended family, or sometimes an entire church.

As I listened to them, I thought that these traditions very much reflected Christ. The Gospel of John, which does not have a Christmas story, probably has the best-known verse when it talks about the gift that God has given to humanity. John 3:16 reads: For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God has given us the greatest gift in the birth of His Son in our world.

This gift of salvation is not the only gift that Christ gives. Jesus starts his ministry by performing a miracle at a wedding. Two people in love were running into a crisis on the day of their wedding—there was no more wine to drink. Jesus gave them a wedding gift of the best wine that the master of ceremony had ever tasted.

Jesus Christ not only enjoyed giving gifts, but he enjoyed a good meal and spending time at the table with other people. In contrast with his cousin John the Baptist, whose primary foods were locusts and honey, Jesus enjoyed the fruit of the wine and good food. Luke 7:34 recounts that because Jesus spent time eating and drinking with sinners and publicans, people called him a winebibber and a glutton. When we study the gospels, we find that many of the deep conversations that Jesus had with the disciples took place at tables as they ate and fellowshipped with one another. After the resurrection, Jesus proves that He is not a ghost by asking the disciples to give Him a piece of fish and then eating it. After Christ’s Ascension, one of the most important components of the apostolic church was sharing meals.

Our family has discussed both light and difficult subjects at the dinner table and no subject was taboo. However, as we enjoyed all of those discussions over our food, we were aware that Jesus Christ was the invisible guest at each of our meals. We recognized that what we had were gifts from God because the Bible tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights.


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So, continue the family traditions that you have and create new ones. Give good gifts, enjoy good food, and cherish your time together, but remember the supreme gift that God gave to us at Christmas – His beloved son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...