Column – The Perfect Gift Right On Time
Published 8:14 pm Thursday, December 28, 2023
In some ways, it’s surreal that we are here already. I don’t know about you, but Advent has flown by. I hope this Christmas is going to be a blessed one for you.
I hope somehow, in with all the commitments and parties, in with all the rush that comes with the year’s end, somehow the Christ Child has stolen in once again and captured your attention.
Maybe not in the same way as when you were a child. But my greatest prayer as we gather is that you wake up tomorrow feeling even a tinge of the magic, hope and possibility that makes Christmas so powerful!
Have you ever considered that here in North America, Christmas is an experience that on the surface of it we share largely in common. We have a fixed date of December 25. We have a lexicon of songs. In fact, we have both Christmas carols that our traditions tend to ride on and Advent and Christmas hymns for people of faith.
There is a shared visual, as well. When we put the colors red and green together any time of year, most of us are probably instantly reminded of Christmas. Regionally, there are tastes and traditions.
There is gift-giving, tree decorating, gathering and the hanging of stockings. On the surface, that is, it all looks pretty homogenous.
But when we draw our glance inward a bit, I suspect that people experience the Christmas season differently. That is, your unique circumstances have brought you to this moment in your life. They also shape how you, or even if you, still experience Christmas significantly at all these days.
In Hebrews 1:1-4, we receive a powerful testimony as to why Christmas matters in the first place. While we do not know the precise identity of the intended recipients of this letter we call “Hebrews,” the text indicates that they had suffered for following Jesus.
From time to time, they got discouraged. Maybe you do, too, at times on your journey with Jesus and with life. Not just discouraged, but maybe they also yearned for new insights. In other words, maybe they longed for growth. Wisdom. Freshness. Deeper perspective for the living of their days.
This Christmas, maybe we of all people needed these words from Hebrews once again. Elementary or basic as they might sound, they sum up a testimony we might need to hear again. “Jesus is the reflection of God’s glory,” he says. “And the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things…” including some days you or me “…by his powerful word.”
Through Jesus, God has created the world. In Jesus, God has made provision. Not just for salvation or purification, but also for life to go on. Your life and my life. This chapter of your life, and chapters of your life not yet written.
At Christmas, God has heard the voice of the children. Us. Oh, we haven’t always heard God’s voice. Sometimes we have been self-focused, if we might be honest.
But here’s the power of Christmas. That Jesus has come and has taken human form even though he was superior to all. That’s why Christmas matters.
Have you ever noticed in the Luke 2 story of Jesus’ birth, those tough and grizzled Shepherds were given first exposure to this good news. They were out tending their flocks by night. Suddenly, as you may recall, a heavenly host is revealing the good news of Jesus’ birth.
They didn’t say, “Hey, let’s go see the baby.” No, these tough outdoorsmen said, “Let us go and see this thing that has happened.” The news was about so much more than merely another beautiful child added to earth’s census.
Instead, they realized that God was doing a new thing. God had finally determined to rip open the heavens and come to be with us now in our lives. A thing powerful enough that it can still touch my life and yours.
It’s not too late, you know. There is still time. All of God’s children can be positioned to hear God’s loving voice clearly, if we can make a way to listen. Somehow just as Christmastide arrives, things may for a moment get relatively still and quiet for many of us.
I hope that’s true for you this Christmastide, as we live toward a new year. Because the Christ Child would be a perfect gift for us to open anew. The gift that has, once again, arrived right on time.