Luke 2:1-7

I have a tendency to hesitate when it comes to receiving presents. I have this thing about “dust collectors.” I only like those things which are useful. And over the years, it’s been evident that most people have had no idea what it is that they should give me.

Which is why, in a sense, it has been amusing to see what I have been given. But in another sense, it has been very difficult to avoid saying those words, “It’s just what I always wanted.” And that was particularly true, one year, when I was given a pink fluffy hippopotamus. But then, the problem with presents is that we don’t always see their value.

Indeed, I may not have appreciated being given a pink hippopotamus, but I’m sure someone who loved cuddly toys, would have loved it. It would have been one of the best presents they could ever have received. Furthermore, when I looked at that pink hippopotamus, did I only see it as another useless “dust collector” or did I see the thought behind the present as well?

And I say that because there can be more to presents than first meets the eye. And that is not just true of pink hippopotamuses. After all, one of the greatest presents there has ever been is God’s gift to us all: the gift of a baby. And yet for most people that gift gather dusts on the shelf or has simply been thrown away. Yes, people might like to retell the story of the birth of Jesus, or sing Christmas carols, but for most people that’s as far as it goes. And yet the thought behind the gift is God giving everyone the opportunity to saying “yes” to eternal life. That is, eternal life with God, not eternal damnation in the other place where we would otherwise go.

Presents . . . they really can be something more to them than meets the eye.

Which is why this Christmas—and by that, I mean the day that has been set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus—we should take the opportunity to get out God’s present and give it another look. Because Christmas is not just about the same old story that gets trotted out year after year. It’s not just an opportunity to pick and choose aspects so that we convince ourselves that it’s OK to meet with family, to swap presents, and to eat and drink as much as we like. It’s about appreciating God’s gift. And it’s about responding to God, by accepting his offer of reconciliation, and dedicating our lives to his service. All things which get ignored in most people’s celebrations.

Giving presents at Christmas time is all very well. But Christmas is not about giving presents, it’s about how we have received the present God has given us. Because it does have real meaning and it does have real purpose.

Indeed, it is in our own best interests to embrace God’s gift, and to live with God in our day to day lives. We need to appreciate the thought behind the gift, which has some very serious consequences for us indeed.

Now how we have accepted God’s gift will be reflected in the way we celebrate Christmas. Will we have family and friends, and presents, and food and drink at the forefront of our celebrations, or will we have thanksgiving for the birth of the saviour on pour minds? How will we respond to God’s gift this year?

Posted: 19th December 2020
© 2020, Brian A Curtis