I Love Christmas! Not, as you might think, because of the gifts I might receive under the tree. I Love Christmas because it gives me the opportunity to buy and give gifts to family and friends, One of my spiritual giftings is giving, and I revel in the opportunity to choose and give gifts. I feel excited; I love the challenge of finding out what the recipient might like; I love to research where I can purchase the gift, and I love to wrap the gift in preparation for Christmas.
But I know that this is not everyone’s experience. Many find the task daunting, unable to think what someone would like to receive at Christmas and they choose their gifts from catalogues, internet sales and TV advertising in the hope that they just might ‘hit the nail on the head’ in the eyes of the recipient.
A little rhyme I read some years ago has created a basis of what I will now buy for Christmas – and other occasions, as well;
Something they want; something they need
Something to wear; something to read
Discovering what a person might want is a year-long process; I ‘keep my ear to the ground’ and, whenever I hear someone express a desire for a particular item, I sneak away and note it down in my phone memo. Then, when it is time to buy a gift, I have a library of gift ideas for Christmas.
Until recently, the wrapping of the gift was not a priority in my eyes; after all, people just tear off the paper and bows of the gift, and they are never thought of again. But when I receive a gift myself, I have come to realise that that moment when the gift is placed in your hands, and you look at the time and effort someone has put into making the gift look beautiful, that, in itself, is a huge part of the whole gift. So, over the last few years, I have visited a shop supplies retailer on 10th Avenue and purchased large 30m rolls of wrapping paper – 1 x roll of birthday paper, 1 x roll of Christmas paper and 1 x roll of brown paper. The brown paper is often used for male recipients who might be embarrassed by themed paper – but I always add a little strip of decorative paper, cut off the end of a roll, and wrapped around one end of the gift, just to make it look less like a fish & chip packet!
As this Christmas approaches, I have been thinking about the very first Christmas and the very first Christmas gift given to mankind 2018 years ago. Using my little gift rhyme, I ask myself, did God ‘hit the nail on the head’ when He chose to present Himself to us wrapped in the human form of Jesus, God’s Son.
Something they want? Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that everyone is born with a desire to have some meaning to life; to understand how we got here, why we are here and what is going to happen to us when we leave this earth. The answer to all these questions leads us to ask the question of whether there is a greater being that got this whole universe started – whether they believe in evolution or Creation, there still has to be something, or someone, who started the ball rolling. And, deep down, we want to know the person who did that. Mankind wants to know God.
Something they need? Have you ever thought what society would look like if Jesus hadn’t come to this earth to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins? Our city block of land would still have to be large enough to graze the lamb, goat or calf for our inevitable sacrifice as we struggle with our sins. Those in apartments would at least have to have a few doves living in a cage on the balcony. Or, if you chose to buy your sacrifice from a local supplier, our cities would always have to be ringed by ‘lifestyle blocks’ with farmers who were breeding such animals. A courier service with livestock crates on the back would have to run from farm to suburb to satisfy this demand, and everyone would know how sinful their neighbours were by the number of times the courier came to call! Yes, mankind needed that first Christmas gift; so that we did not have to make ourselves right with God through our own efforts.
Something to wear? The obvious bit of clothing I could refer to here is the putting on of the full armour of God…which when you boil it down really is putting on Christ. In a sermon in 1995, however, David Wilkinson really summed up the ‘wearing’ of Christ in the following statement – ‘your face is a billboard that advertises what’s going on in your heart. All the joy or turmoil that’s inside you is reflected in your countenance’. Through God’s gift, we are given the relationship with Him which changes the fibre of our being which results in the new appearance we wear.
Something to read? Psychiatrists say the way to read a person is to pay attention to appearance, posture, physical movements and facial expression. In Isaiah 53:2 it was prophesied that Jesus would have ‘no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him’ – despite how painters or Hollywood would have us believe. So, if He wasn’t attractive to look at, how come He made such an impact on and in the lives of so many people? Have you ever noticed how often in the Bible it is said of Jesus that He stooped down to become better acquainted with those of His followers? Over and over again, we read that Jesus bent down, lifted up, knelt down, and sat, with the people. At no time is it said of Jesus that He maintained a position of arrogance or superiority, despite the fact He was God in human form. His posture at all times was that of someone who knew who He was but knew what He came to do. The people who gathered around Him could read in Him someone to whom they were greatly attracted; someone worth following and in so following, someone for whom, ultimately, they would give up their lives.
So, this Christmas, as you pound the pavements or scan the internet for that perfect gift for your loved one, remember that 2018 years ago mankind received the perfect gift from their creator – something they wanted, something they needed, something to wear and something to read.