Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Away In A Manger"1 (Lyrics)
Luke 2:7 – And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (NKJV)
My grade six students always exchanged a chocolate bar (so that the cost of the gift could be well controlled), but they could wrap their "gift" however they chose. Some would come in the traditionally small packaging, simply wrapped; others would add an air of mystery by wrapping their bar in a variety of different-shaped containers, odd-sized packages, or even in large boxes. Anyone looking under the classroom tree would see an assortment of gifts that would take their breath away. What a delicious mystery lay ahead when each recipient, according to number, would receive their gift! Even as these gifts were opened, the guessing would begin on the kind of bar inside. Everyone received a gift and no one felt left out or cheated in any way. Most would carefully rewrap their gift to take home and keep the mystery going there.
That first Christmas morning so long ago also created an air of anticipation and mystery at such a gift, so simply wrapped and presented: God's own Son was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. His presentation was as simple as one could ever imagine, surrounded by the animals in a stable, wrapped in simple cloths and placed in a wooden manger that did not come from Ikea or Sears! No fanfare welcomed Him to the world, and yet, there was anticipation among so many as they concerned themselves with wondering just what this tiny baby would become or how He would affect their world. Little did they really know!
Why was this gift given to mankind?
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (NKJV)
That first Christmas morning, the greatest gift, however simply presented, was a gift of pure love from God's own heart to our hearts. This year, as we both give and receive gifts, no matter how elegantly or how simply they are wrapped and presented, may they be given in love from our hearts. May we also remember that first Christmas morning and the best gift ever given to the world in the form of a tiny baby who has impacted our world for over 2000 years. He continues to make His presence felt and known among those who seek a miracle or need a blessing or know that God loves them so much that He gave His one and only Son — to us! Let's look at the tiny Babe in the manger with fresh eyes and an open heart. May we all receive the real meaning of that first Christmas: unconditional love and forgiveness for all who seek Him and accept Him as our Saviour.
Now that is a gift of anticipation as we walk along with Him! What blessings and miracles of love await!
Prayer: Dear and loving God, thank You for Your gift of love so freely given so many years ago. Thank You that we may still feel the impact of that gift as we accept Your forgiveness and allow You to create in us the anticipation of Christmas every day. May we give ourselves to You as our own gift of love and allow You to use us as You choose — to help others realize the wondrous gift of love You gave, and continue to give, to everyone and anyone who seeks You this day! In Jesus' precious name, we pray. Amen.