04 December 2008

A Christmas Gift for Jesus


The first Christmas gift we open each Christmas morning is one we give.

Because He first gave to us.

I send the children off as wise men, to seek a simple gift, hidden somewhere in the house for them to find. A gift not wrapped in shiny, colorful, tinseled packaging, but one wrapped in simple, brown paper. Like the One who was the ultimate Gift, all of eternity wrapped in a wordless, poor baby lying in a common feeding trough of hay. This gift appears to human eyes to be insignificant, even unsuitable. Yet to spiritual eyes, it is a treasure beyond value. The most highly treasured gift of them all.

The children giddily look hinder and yon until a shout of joy signals that what was sought has been found. We gather next to the Christmas tree with its colorful plastic lights sparkling like the twinkling stars that hung above the first manger scene so many years ago. We share anticipation of what is about to unfold as we talk about that first Gift lying the manger and what He said about giving gifts to Him, the giving of our true selves.

I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me. ... I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me. ... I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me - you failed to do it to me.' (from Matthew 25, The Message)

We eagerly tear open the brown paper as we open our hearts yet again to the words, the very Life, of the Babe of Bethlehem. Beyond the brown paper we always find the same thing each year: The Christmas Catalog from Samaritan's Purse. My heart leaps with quiet joy as I see my children pour over the pages with each other, eager to choose which gift they will give to Jesus. They excitedly share with each other the possibilities as they turn the pages. Will it be tasty, nutritious hot meals for those without food? Will it be a house, a shelter and refuge from rain, wind, and cold? How about new clothing that not only offers protection from the elements, but also helps to restore dignity, modesty, and self-respect? Or medicines and supplies designed to meet the typical medical needs of 10,000 people? What about rescuing a child from the bondage and abuse of human trafficking? Or supplying a community with clean water? Will it be giving Gospel storybooks to children around the world so they can read of God's love for them in their own language?

Each member of the family makes their own choice, returns a gift to the Giver of all they have. For the simple joy of blessing Jesus. It is our favorite gift to open, to give, and to receive. Heaven is known a little more here on earth. Eternity steps into time once again through our lives.

It is Christmas once again.

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