Gifts In Wrappers

December 21, 2021
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Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (ESV)

On the first Saturday of this month, after a year off, I was again being dressed up as Father Christmas, although this year, his white beard was more mine than in past years, and it seems that he gets a little less spritely every year when bending down to greet the children.

As I reflect upon the 200 or so children whom I saw, I was mindful of the mixed messages from Father Christmas and Jesus. I wanted to encourage love, peace, and acceptance without distracting from the real story of Christmas. Father Christmas — this strange, mythical character giving temporal gifts — is running cheek-by-jowl with the real gift giver, Jesus — the giver of life eternal for all those willing to accept the challenge of discipleship.

Recently, as thanks for a favour done, I was given a bag with a variety of chocolate confections within, each one individually wrapped. As I handed one of these tiny chocolate gifts to each of my children, I was reminded of my earlier prayer time, when I had thought about our Christmas giving and receiving, in contrast to Jesus' giving and receiving. Jesus' gifts are eternal, lovingly given, and to be remembered, in contrast to Father Christmas's giving of sweetmeats and stuff, which are often forgotten or cast aside after a day or two.

By Mary's willingness to receive a gift from God, she received the gift of Jesus, Who came into the world as a child through Mary. What an amazing gift to receive! Through her acceptance, Jesus still ministers eternal gifts to a world that is largely unmindful of the gifts that He is giving. Jesus provides a way back to God, allowing humanity to revert to the pre-fall plan of living in harmony together with God.

Without the gift of incarnation celebrated at Christmas, there would have been no Easter with its opportunity today to empower the gift of grace to believers. Without Jesus' first gift of grace, there would be no access to Pentecost's giving of gifts.

When we seek first the kingdom of God and His forgiveness, His gifts will be given for the common good — ones to share, not to clasp tightly so as to melt away in our hands or stay unwrapped, unused, but ones to for us open and to give from freely.

Are we prepared to receive — and to give?

Prayer: Lord, Immanuel, Jesus, we give You thanks, honour, and praise. We celebrate Your birth that started the process that led to Your exaltation and, by Your grace, to our salvation. We rejoice that You turn no one away. Amen.

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About the author:

Rod Marshall <roderickhenrymarshall@gmail.com>
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen, Rod. Have a Merry Christmas.


    Rod, you always have such interesting and thought-provoking messages. Thanks for this one.


    Amen, Rod! God be the glory! Thanks for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.


    Thanks, Rod, for sharing your understanding and hope today with us all. Blessings on your journey.


    Good one Rod.
    Ho ho hope you have a great Christmas.
    Blessings.


    Thank you, Rod, and a Blessed Merry Christmas to you and yours, and stay well.
    (Cal.)


    Another beautiful message, Rod. Thank you.
    Blessings to you and your family. Merry Christmas.
    (ON)


    Amen.
    Thank you for your message put so simply yet so powerful.
    A joyful blessed Christmas to you.


    Good morning, Rod,
    What a great gift from God indeed, a gift to support us in times of need.
    Thank you and I wish you and yours a blessed Christmas.


    Dear Rod.
    Thank you for your very moving and thoughtful devotional. As I read it, I found a wonderful peace.
    May God bless you and your family greatly.


    Good morning, Rod,
    A lovely prayer to help us remember the importance of Christmas and that all are welcome. May we all remember as we celebrate Santa Claus and Christmas that there are two celebrations with different meanings happening and the both have good involved in them. The lights we decorate our homes with can represent the light of Jesus. The gifts that Santa Claus gives can represent the gifts of love, peace, hope, and joy that Jesus gives us.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.


    Merry Christmas Roderick and your family.
    Thank you for your devotional.
    God bless.

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