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Fancy Gift Box

Every year we come to this moment.   Excitement fills the air, anticipation is on the children's faces and plans for an enjoyable time spent with family and friends are made. Even with the challenges of the passing year, our individual focus cannot be lost on the circumstances we have had no control over this year, but we must be focused on the things that we rely on to get us through.  For each one of us, these things may be different, as we come from different backgrounds, beliefs and traditions.


Our planning for this varies.  But typically by the week of Thanksgiving, we are in full Christmas mode.  That special music starts, decorating begins and most households are decorated and in full splendor by the Sunday after thanksgiving.  And as Christians we have to remember every one who decorates is not a follower of Jesus. We must remember that Christmas means different things to different people.


For some of us we have a sense of relief, decorating is done and shopping begins.  For others we have a sense of hope, a refreshing reminder of a miraculous conception, foretold 100s of years before the birth of the child that would change the world and still have an impact 2000 years later, The birth of Jesus the Christ.


But this year, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ, I want to stray from the typical message of looking beyond the manger to see the cross.  Tonight, I want to focus on the relationship between the gift and the giver.


Often I believe as followers of Jesus, we get lost this time of year.  With the commercialization of Christmas and the massive campaigns over whether or not to say "Merry Christmas" our focus tends to fall more and more on political correctness.  As a result, We worry more about offending our neighbor instead of loving him. We tend to get short sighted  in the Gift and oversighted in the Gifting.  And given circumstances we may have faced this year, all this tends to be amplified.


On top of this, with the convenience of online shopping and  the Advent of the gift card, we have become less understanding of the thought behind the gift and the person receiving the gift.  For years I have heard, it is not the gift, but the thought that counts. But as I approach Christmas this year, I realize that is more of an escape clause than a truth, I have come to realize that it is about the gift.


As I have progressed through this year with a more divisive society, shrinking church congregations and social empathy, I chose to focus more on myself, yes, but not in a selfish manner.  I have sought out what is important to me and how these things work in my life.  With the distractions of societal  and church interactions removed, I have noted that people have openly followed 2 paths.  One of rebellion to gain back what was perceived as a liberty or choice taken, and the other has been, basically, a survival type holding pattern, waiting for things to go back to normal, if possible


But as I have focused on myself, I have noted that certain things I have held dear and not so dear and those things that I have allowed to be influenced by others are not as I would wish them to be in my life.  For example, as I have spent more time at home I have experienced my family in a totally different way.  Through a series of family dynamics both close and extended, I have come to see my wife and children in a different light.  I have come to appreciate the value each brings to the family as I have watched the individual struggles and strengths as each has not only faced but overcome their circumstance to not only survive, but thrive and grow this year. 


 I have a better understanding of how they think, what they like and how I fit into each of their lives, not just how they fit in my life. And, as I approach Christmas this year, I am different.  I am more satisfied with where I am and the relationships that have survived.  I have realized I do not need a Church building to be in every Sunday, or a choir, or a theatrical Pastoral performance, or all the pomp and circumstance that comes with modern religious services, basically, I just need Jesus.  Basically, I just want Jesus.


And that is what God understands today just as well as he did 2000 years ago.


And with that understanding, God was able to provide the perfect gift for us, not just a series of good thoughts and well wishes.


You see, since the exile from the Garden, God had been socially distant from man, no personal interaction, only prophets, kings and Judges delivering his will.  


But with all of those ages of separation,  man had begun to separate from God.  


He understands us, not just the Christian, but everybody, every faith and every non believer.


He understands that each of us has our own set of fears, weaknesses and biases.  Each of us has questions, concerns and doubts. Not only are these individualized but important to us.

And this is where the gift came in and why the gift is more important than the thought,  But equal to the understanding.


For in the gift, the birth of Jesus the Christ, God understood that man needed something, Man needed a direct connection and example.  And in the birth of Jesus, God gave the perfect Gift, a piece of Himself for man to hear, and see and learn from.  And the gift was wrapped in Human flesh, something man could relate to. 

And remember the gift was not a deity, removed from man, but a part of God living in a man.

A man who would face every circumstance we could ever face and show us how to deal with the circumstance, Whether temptation, fear, loss, or whatever….., Jesus faced it, and left us the example and or understanding of God.

So maybe the thought is as important as the gift, but remember the gift shows how well the giver understands the receiver. 

As we approach Christmas, let's not focus on the gift, but how the gift brings us closer to an understanding of the giver and an appreciation of how receiver connects to the gift.

Each year we experience excitement.  But most importantly we experience anticipation.  


Why, because as true followers of Jesus, even though we may get distracted by it, we can see past the commercialism, the political correctness and the days we have to wait for next Christmas.  We understand that our faith is not tied to a single day or set of circumstances or what we have gained or perceived to have lost.


Our faith, our hope, and our reason to exist is tied to a living savior.


A gift from a loving God that understands our needs, and understands them over our wants.


A savior that sits at the right hand of He who sits on the throne.


A savior who waits with anticipation and patience.


A savior who is waiting for the Father to say, "Go and collect your bride.”

And we are his bride, not a church of buildings and denominations but of followers,  and at that we will understand how the gift of Jesus has brought us closer to the giver, God the Father.


So as we reach our point of exhaustion this year, as we take down the tree and decorations and as we breathe that inevitable sigh of relief and try to remember who gave us what gift, 


Just remember this, the gift of an insight to the kingdom of heaven was not a baby in a manger, but a perfect example of a man named Jesus, the  son of the Living God of creation that lived and walked among God’s creation, Being resurrected at the call of God and providing the one True example to follow.

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