So all I have is me to give.

Christmas time came too soon
The bells rang loud and I’m hitting snooze
Buy some time if I weren’t broke
But I owe I owe I owe I owe
I owe I owe I owe

My credit card is full of doubt
The government won’t bail me out
This year I must take it slow
I owe I owe I owe I owe
I owe I owe I owe

My heart is beating me to death
That’s okay, I’ve got some fight in me yet
Live in a house that I don’t own
But I owe I owe I owe I owe
I owe I owe I owe

Jesus wants his birthday back
Put the Christ into the mas
The only prayer I really know is
I owe I owe I owe I owe
I owe I owe I owe

So all I have is me to give
I hope I’m on your Christmas list
I’ve got more love than winter has snow
And I owe, I owe, I owe, I owe -Jeremy Fisher, “Kamikaze Economy Christmas (I Owe)” (listen to it here)

In recent years, my family’s Christmases, which were always rather modest affairs, have been dialed down even more. Because, in truth, we need very little, and giving and receiving gifts out of obligation seems very far from what Jesus’ birth in a stable in a tiny village was meant to be about. So I give my brother a book and a DVD I think he will enjoy, and I graciously accept similar things from him, things that he took the time to select. We exchange gifts out of love and care for each other, and I always look forward to seeing what he has gotten me.

The gift we received in that stable is much greater, and, in truth, is much more difficult to accept than the sweater that my brother bought at Target. Sometimes it’s hard not to think of it as a debt that I must try to repay or at least somehow live up to. This is in part because the love behind that gift is so much more than I know how to understand – I almost feel that I have to look at it sideways to keep from blinding myself. But just as I would give my brother a gift even if he gave me nothing at all, so did Jesus come to earth, not to put us in any kind of debt, but to erase the sin and sadness that keep us from being in relationship with God.

While I might feel that I owe a debt that can never be repaid, the birth of Jesus makes it possible for us to accept the gift of God’s love in freedom, without any guilt whatsoever. Giving gifts at Christmas is a small picture of that love, and I am thankful for a family that helps me to understand that. At Christmas, we celebrate the fact that we owe nothing at all.

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