Are you ready?
It’s true: I’ve heard rumours of a remarkable strain of people who, as we embark on Advent, already have all their Christmas presents bought, wrapped and labelled! Apparently, they really exist and if you are smiling smugly in identifying as one of these superhumans, please know I view you with admiration and respect!
As you may be guessing, I am not operating in this league… I usually join the last-minute frantic melee of harassed shoppers as part of my ‘festive’ Yuletide tradition! Either that, or I shrug it off altogether and tentatively resolve to start earlier next year.
Choosing, buying, making, giving and receiving presents can become so all-consuming in this season, a task for most of us of ever-increasing intensity as THE DAY approaches.
Some time ago at the end of one challenging year in our family we corporately decreed a ‘present-giving amnesty’. The promise was to be fully present with one another and not give or receive presents. To offer a present of our time and attention rather than something to unwrap and distract us from each other. That may sound really dull to some people, but for our family it had the effect of liberating us in the season to enjoy it and each other in a different, deeper way. For us it turned out to be a very special Christmas that hasenhanced every Christmas since then.
Present-giving is not in itself bad! Presents are a way of expressing love and appreciation. For Christians, presents also hold a reminder of God’s most precious gift to His beloved children, to us: His Son left the heavenly realms of glory to take up residence in a human baby, in Jesus the Messiah. It is well known that Jesus came to demonstrate God’s love in word and in action, even to the extreme. Jesus presented His perfect life to the point of death as a demonstration of love, and to open the way to an everlasting relationship with unconditional love through believing in His Name. Christians give and receive presents at Christmas to mirror this loving gift from God.
God’s gift to us was not a one-hit wonder some 2000 years ago, but can be unwrapped, enjoyed and treasured every day of our lives. As Advent unfolds and we become preoccupied with presents, I encourage us to pause for a moment each day, perhaps lighting a candle, and resolve to be present with the presence of God in the present. Simply saying the precious name of His gift can help: Jesus.
With love and every blessing for this season, Jenny