Posted 3 months ago

I’ve been pondering about the best Christmas present(s) to give and receive (I’m just about to start my Christmas shopping!) A friend of mine has been busy making various gifts both beautiful craft handiwork and home-made flavoured gin and vodka, which has involved much thought and preparation in gathering the necessary ingredients and materials together. You may have a preference, of course, but what I thought about was the time and effort she had given to making these lovely things. She also had personalised these gifts in her own beautiful way with labels and tags. She has used her gifts to create gifts that I think will be well received by their recipients.

Christmas can be such a costly time, if we let it. I know that many children will have provided their parents and/or grandparents with lists of things that they would like to receive; often products that are fresh on the market, with a hefty price tag to go with them. Or us ladies love to receive presents all beautifully wrapped with the expectation that what is inside is going to be impressive; something we will be delighted with.

But, may be, it’s not about the value of the present itself? Receiving something that someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make or produce is really special, especially if it is something we really want or really like, isn’t it? The investment of time and effort by one person is a precious gift to another. Time is something we cannot buy, or can’t take back. Time given is a real gift.

But what about the gift of Jesus. God had promised for a long time that he would send someone special for his people; to make a difference and to restore the relationship between God and humankind. There are many hints and promises in the Old Testament that indicates that God was a long time in the planning and preparation of the gift of Jesus to the world, of giving of himself and when the gift arrived it still has to be received by the intended recipients.

For Mary the gift of God’s Son, was rather a surprise – but one as she was willing to receive and say “Yes” to the angel who delivered the message; that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.

For Joseph, the gift of Jesus was initially worrying – how could he go through with his marriage to Mary; but subsequently a gift to be protected and nurtured.

The Angels delivered the message to the Shepherds and then sang praises to God for this precious gift.

When the Shepherds turned up to find Jesus in the manger, they could have missed out had they just looked at the packaging. A tiny baby- a saviour – in an animal’s feed trough! The Bible tells us that they spread the word about what they had seen and heard – they got it!

The Wise Men, learned men, invested a lot of time and money to travel a long distance to see the “new king”. They made a mistake or two on the way but once they had found what they were looking for – we are told they bowed down and worshiped the small child and gave impressive gifts, before they set off home.

In the first chapter of the gospel book of John – a familiar reading at many Christmas services – there is a beautiful description of the gift of Jesus, but a few verses in it says

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…”

Our God-given gift of Jesus was received by some and refused by others; a gift that had lovingly been prepared for us; a gift to enjoy and be shared; a gift that cost God so much yet was given as a token of his love for us, because he thinks we are worth it.

This Christmas take time to unwrap an appreciate the gift of Jesus for you, personally. Like the Shepherds you may have to be prepared to take a risk and discover for yourself what others have told you; to see past the way that Jesus has been packaged in the past and see/recognise the Jesus you may have been looking for in your journey of life. Jesus is the most precious gift we can receive this Christmas. If you want to find out more come along to one of the Carol Services or the Carols in the Pubs. I would love to share the good news of Christmas with you.