Dec 24, 2015

My Favorite Christmas Gift

It’s Christmas, and with each passing year we get more and more gifts; each one taking its place among our list of favorites. 

So what is yours? Was it the bike you received when you were ten? Was it the stamp collection handed down from an older brother who was cash-poor due college debt? Was it the new granddaughter who suddenly filled your empty-nest with noise? 

I am discovering, a gift that was my all-time favorite gift, can easily lose its place as I receive yet another favorite gift. And, oftentimes, the title doesn’t go to the one that has the best market value. No, oftentimes, the top billing goes to the one that sacrificed the most to give me that gift.

Although I have appreciated it when I have been given (monetarily) expensive gifts from friends and family, to me, what gave more significance had more to do with who gave it to me and how much they had to sacrifice to give it. 

For me, as I look back at all that was given to me, I still remember with gratefulness my favorite gift; probably because of how much it cost my friend to give it to me.

The year was 1979. I was in my second year of college and I was longing for something to change my life which, although I had focus and a career path, still it felt somewhat aimless. Everything I had lost its luster and nothing and no one seemed to be able to give me what I really needed.

The gift was given years before, but I hadn’t personally received it until just after Thanksgiving; so actually it came a little early that year. The gift was expensive, not in market value, but because the giver had to sacrifice so much to give it to me. 

The gift, my favorite gift, was eternal life. It was a precious gift given by the only One who really knew what I was looking for. It was something that has altered my course of life; both now and for eternity.  

In fact, this gift can be yours as well; the price has already been paid by Jesus…all you have to do is simply receive it. That is what Christmas is all about.

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a Son, her firstborn. She wrapped Him in a blanket and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please Him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!” Luke 2:1-21 (MSG)


The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


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