Recently, I was at a Sunday School class Christmas luncheon and around our table the question came up, “What’s the most meaningful Christmas gift you ever received?” Several around the table began a journey back through their memories and began to speak of gifts they had received many years ago as children.
The one that immediately sticks out in my mind was the man who told of wanting and ultimately getting a Red Ryder BB Gun. I think the reason it stuck out for me is because I thought of the movie, “A Christmas Story,” and couldn’t help but think how similar his story was to that of Ralphie.
Of course, I also recalled the most meaningful gift I had ever received. I asked for something I knew was beyond the realm of possibility, something even Santa with all the toys he had at his disposal could never afford. I didn’t really expect to receive it, but I asked nevertheless.
When Christmas morning rolled around, the gift was not there, and while I am embarrassed to admit it, I was disappointed. Even though I knew it was not really a possibility, I had hoped against hope…and I was wrong. However, wonder of wonders, after all the other gifts had been opened, my father asked me to go out to the trunk of his car to get something, and there to my incredible surprise was the gift I did not deserve and could not believe I had been given.
In just a few days, many will gather around Christmas trees, gifts will be exchanged and in some cases, new memories like the ones we talked about that day will be made.
However, as I sit here writing these words, I am reminded that ultimately the greatest gift that has ever been given is the gift God gave more than two millennia ago, when a little baby was born in the humble surroundings of a manger stall. That day, love came down from heaven and a gift was given to the whole world, past, present and future.
That day, a gift was given to the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich. That day, a gift was given that not one of us deserve and we have no right to expect. That day, a gift was given that made it possible for sins to be forgiven, lives to be changed, hurts to be healed and sorrows to give way to the promise of eternity. That day, a gift was given from the heart of a loving, gracious God.
Of course, like all gifts, to be fully enjoyed it has to be received. So, over the next few days, as we take our last few steps on our journey toward Christmas, and reflect on the child that was born in Bethlehem, I pray that you will ponder the gift you have been given. May you remember how precious you are to God, and may this gift light up your life the way God intended.