Perhaps, like me, you’ve found it a bit easier to get into the Christmas spirit this year with our January-like temperatures and dustings of snow. If we have to deal with the cold, we may as well embrace the festivity along with it!
Favorite gift received
I’m guessing you probably have an all-time favorite Christmas gift. I know that somewhere out there is a photo of me unwrapping an Atari video game system (circa 1980) with a look on my face that screams, “Best Gift Ever!!” Sometimes, our favorite gifts are those things we’ve been hoping for and anticipating for a long time, and perhaps some wrapped presents have been shaken vigorously with curiosity because of that hope and longing. Other times, a gift is especially precious to us because of the giver: it’s a person who is deeply beloved by us, or we profoundly appreciate the heart of the giver even more than the gift itself.
Favorite gift given
Just as we can probably all name our favorite gift we’ve ever received, we can most likely all name the favorite gift we’ve ever given. There is probably that one gift that we would point to as the one we gave with an extra measure of forethought, anticipation, excitement, exhilaration and love. Perhaps the joy of the recipient upon receiving the gift brought you greater delight than did the best gift you ever opened.
Best gifts ever
This Advent season, we’re going to be looking at the best gifts ever. We know that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17). At Christmas, of course, we contemplate once again the greatest gift in all of history: the gift of the Christ child, the Messiah. Advent reminds us to ponder and appreciate the gifts of hope, peace, love and joy as we encounter them anew.
God gives gifts better than any others we’ve ever received. And we have the opportunity during Advent and any time of year to be givers of good gifts as well as receivers. During these weeks of Advent, we’ll reflect on God’s gifts to us and how they can and should deeply impact our lives. We’ll explore, too, how we can bless the world around us by giving freely of those treasures that we have been given. As the people around us receive from us gifts of hope and peace, of love and joy, they’ll be given a taste of the goodness of the God who is the source of all these gifts and more.
It’s not hard to see how deeply our world needs these gifts. Jesus Christ came to this world out of God’s deep love for it. Even when we’re frustrated with the way the world is going, we can renew our resolve to bless the world however we can, just as God loved us while we were still sinners and opposed to him. This kind of gift giving doesn’t always come easy, but Advent provides time and space for practice, and this season of giving gifts reminds us of the difference that one carefully chosen and lovingly given gift can make.
With you in this Advent journey,