Unwrapping the gift
The Spice Box
by Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel –
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1-14).
When I was a child living on our ten-acre family farm in Valleyford, Washington, I don’t think “Advent” was ever a part of our Christian calendar. Christmas was Christmas, and the month before was an exciting prelude to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Whispered conversations and secretive smiles passed between Mom and Dad, and we knew they were thinking of the gifts they were making for the kids-all seven of us, ranging from preschool age to teens.
Sometimes in the evenings Dad’s brothers and their families would drop by after supper, and the songbooks would come out and everyone would sing carols and Christmas songs. I would sit on my dad’s lap and keep whispering that he should get them to sing “Away in the Manger” and “Jingle Bells.” He did.
It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I heard of the customs of Advent, the unfolding of the Scriptures preceding and surrounding the birth of the Savior. I loved the weekly lighting of the Advent candle, the quiet times of meditation, the sharing of Scriptures, but I must admit, I wondered why the studies generally focused on the prophets, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men, all from writings of the prophets and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Somehow we seemed to forget that the sending of God’s Son Jesus as a gift to mankind is presented three times in the Gospels, not two: Matthew spoke of the coming of the gift, Jesus, the Messiah, and emphasized that the whole package of related events was in fulfillment of prophecy—this child is indeed the promised one of God; Luke wrote of the receiving of the gift—the lovely story of the Savior’s birth. He skillfully set the scene, describing the chain of events surrounding the birth. His is the tender, thrilling story of submission, obedience and unquestioning faith—the story of a few devoted believers who welcomed the coming of their Savior to an otherwise unresponsive world.
And then there was John…
I have a dear friend who once saved a gift for years without unwrapping it, because she just enjoyed looking at the wrapped gift. I wouldn’t be able to do that. I want to unwrap it as quickly as possible, to see what’s inside. John was like that. It was left to John to unwrap for the first time the divine gift in all its fullness—God made flesh, dwelling among us.
To read the first chapter of the Gospel of John is to see God presenting in Jesus Christ a perfect revelation of the eternal Father, full of grace and truth. In the clearest, simplest way possible, John introduces Jesus as making possible life, in its fullest and truest sense—the life God intended for us from the very beginning. The writer reveals Jesus as the true light, the light of God that pushes back and overcomes the darkness—the light that makes eternal vision possible—and it is John who offers the most precious insight of all, that Jesus, in his coming, makes it possible for them who believe to become CHILDREN OF GOD. What an incredible gift—for, as a child of God, every day is Christmas.
LORD, MAKE IT CHRISTMAS AGAIN
Lord, make it Christmas again,
Send the Christ Child anew to our hearts,
That we might experience afresh the joy
Of welcoming Him,
And be reminded once more of
The reason for His coming.
Lord, make it Christmas again.
In the busy-ness of the season,
Make us mindful of the manger,
And of the precious gift
Nestled warm in the straw,
As we fall to our knees in awed silence,
Overcome by the mystery of His love.
Lord, make it Christmas again.
Renew our spirits as we delight
In the well-spring of His presence,
And send us forth, revitalized
Through the confirming presence of His Spirit,
The seal of His advent in our hearts.