There are many gifts of Christmas. The gift of the Messiah seen by Simeon,the gift of a son to Mary and Joseph, the three gifts of the magi to Jesus. Then there are the gifts we give each other. These come in many forms: toys, clothes, books and footy pajamas, all expressions of love to our family and friends. We look at the Christmas story and say that the birth of Jesus was the greatest gift of all.
In our family, I notice that after we open our gifts on Christmas day a couple things happen. Presents that we are very excited about are immediately used or assimilated into our wardrobe, room, garage or kitchen. Some gifts just seem to linger under the tree. Sometimes, these gifts are left for days. Opened, oohed and aahed over, and finally, abandoned and forgotten under the tree.
I can’t help but feel that we often treat this gift of Christmas-the birth of Jesus-the same way. Each year we prepare to celebrate by decorating our homes, buying gifts, baking treats, gathering with friends and family, all in preparation for Christmas. And then, we hear the story. We read it together. We sing of his birth. We celebrate this amazing gift, and then we leave it under the tree. Days after Christmas the tree is down; packed away in the garage or lying unceremonioiusly in the gutter waiting to be collected.The season of Christmas is over, and so is my gratefulness for this gift. The Christmas story is packed away like a manger scene and so is my awareness of all He has done for me.
This gift, like every other one, has to be opened and used to enjoy. It is not enough to simply be aware that Jesus was born. The bigger gift, the best gift, is the one that we can receive after his death and resurrection. Forgiveness for all we have done and ever will do. Hope in a future with Him. These gifts we are told to remember. These are the gifts that Christmas has ultimately brought to us.
Ebenezer Scrooge famously says at the end of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” It’s a lovely sentiment.
1 Corinthians 5:21 & 6:1 say this, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.”
This Christmas, let’s not leave anything under the tree. Let’s not receive a marvelous gift and then ignore it.