Best. Gift. Ever.

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by: Ryan C. Brown

As I have gotten older, I have realized that the truest joy I experience during the Holiday season is not in the receiving of gifts, but in giving them. There is something about going shopping, trying to find that perfect gift for each person my list that brings me an abundance of happiness and joy. When I was younger, I was all about the number of gifts I received, the size of the box and how loud or flashy the new toys were. My expectations during the Holiday season were so misguided. It wasn’t entirely my fault, Christmas has become a season of overconsumption and debt-building, which had forced me to think that the true spirit of the Christmas Holiday was receiving. I now realize I was immature in my thinking but age is not the only factor in altering my perspective on Christmas. After taking a closer look at the first Christmas story, a much different spirit of Christmas was revealed to me.

Each individual gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus provide unique details in how the authors experienced this event. What is consistent with the individual accounts is the idea that the coming of the Messiah would be the fulfillment of prophecy. In one prophecy, the language describes the coming of a “Prince of Peace”, another prophecy aligns the Messiah within the lineage of King David, even saying the Messiah would be greater than the well-known king. It goes without saying, the expectations for the coming Messiah were pretty high. As the story unfolds, we see the reality of the coming Messiah, the gift of God’s presence with humanity, comes in the form of a baby, to a mother and father on the run.

I think the thing we can learn from the first Christmas story is that the true spirit of Christmas is about giving. God took the form of a human, came to Earth in the middle of the night and stayed for as long as it was necessary. This gift of presence was meant to bring peace to a turbulent world. I think the second part we can learn from this story is learning to trust in the gifts from God, just like Mary and Joesph chose to do. We may never know the reason why God prompts us to trust the things we are being led into. But we can lean into the Christmas story as a story of sovereignty and hope. We may not know the gifts God has planned to give us, but we can be certain they will be the best gifts ever.