Sorry I’m late with this post. I really DO intend to post every Friday. This Friday just got a bit busy, and I hadn’t written it early.
I’m pretty sure at some point growing up I asked my mother why we gave each other gifts at Christmas. And her response was probably “Because God gave us Jesus and it’s a way to remember that,” or something along those lines. I say, “was probably” because I don’t actually remember the conversation and until a couple days ago, this is what I would have said and definitely believed. And really, I bet if you ask most Christian families, they’d probably give you a similar answer. If you asked someone who didn’t know the Christmas story (or, at least didn’t know the story that involved a baby and a manger and where Santa was nowhere in sight) they’d probably say something along the lines of, “because it’s Christmas”.
Because really, why DO we give gifts? To show friends and family that we love them? Because someone gave us a gift last year and so we want to make sure we return the favor this year? Because it’s the thing to do? Because it makes us look good? WHY? I mean, there are lots of reasons; all of what I’ve said and more!
But, why, as Christians, is it important that we give gifts at Christmastime? Why is it important that we walk that fine line between gift-giving and giving into commercialism and materialism? Because it’s important, that’s why!
Do you remember as a young kid (and maybe still, I know I’m sometimes still this way!) thinking and dreaming about opening your presents Christmas morning? On the rare occasion that Mom got the presents wrapped before Christmas morning, I’d sit and stare at each perfectly packaged present, trying to figure out what was in each one. But the typical Christmas at my house was even better because we WOULDN’T get to see the presents until Christmas morning, and I could let my mind go wild with imagination of what my parents might’ve bought me. When I was in elementary school I dreamed of owning my own tiara. In middle school, the much-desired purity ring. In high school, I dreamed my parents got me a brand-new Volkswagon Bug (it was my dream car at the time). I’m good at dreaming. I LOVE anticipating things – the good things that is.
And really, for me, the anticipation is what makes something extra-special. If I have to wait for what seems like FOR-EV-ER for something, when I finally get it, I treasure it so much more. I remember that moment so much better.
And I can only imagine what it must be like to anticipate, to dream of, to want something for thousands of years – like the Hebrews did with the Messiah. Thousands of years before Jesus walked the Earth, God promised the Hebrews a Messiah, someone who would come save them. And from that moment on, their souls yearned for Him. Thousands of years! I mean, I thought my three years of waiting for my purity ring was hard. The five years of waiting for a car of my very own wasn’t a walk in the park. I’m currently thinking twenty-some years of waiting for Mr.GodPickedForMe is difficult. But none of that, no matter how much MY soul yearns for those things and experiences comes anywhere close to what the Israelites went through, what the world, really went through while waiting for a Savior.
So when staring at the gifts under the tree this year; when you get to the point where you are SO sure you can’t wait a moment longer to open them up and know what’s inside, wait. And remember that God sent His son, and that the Hebrews had waited thousands of years for Him. And that sometimes, in fact, often, waiting, makes you value a thing just that more. Waiting makes receiving that much more special.
My prayer for you this week is that you yearn with anticipation for His second coming, for that is what we are waiting for now. Anticipate. Dream. Prepare!