I hope everyone has got all their Christmas presents, ‘cos if you haven’t I am the bearer of bad news – it’s too late now, even the omnipresent Amazon won’t be able to get that last minute item to you on time now – miracle workers though they usually are.
We all know the feeling don’t we, whether as a child or even (if we’re honest) more recently in our adult life. The expectation of a gift, something we’ve wanted and desired – the hope that our hints have been heard, that the one special thing we wanted is going to be given to us.
I am sure that we have all had times when that gift has been received. But we all I suspect experienced the reverse, the day when that longed for gift didn’t come, when we received anything but what we had hoped for.
I had to smile to myself last week when the news shared that the Cabinet had given Her Majesty the Queen a set of 60 table mats featuring photographs from the Royal Archive. I wonder if that was what she was hoping for to celebrate 60 years on the throne. I wonder if she was left thinking ‘Which part of New Bentley didn’t you understand?’ as the satirical @Queen_UK twitter account put it.
Without trying to sound too materialistic it’s great to get a gift that you had hoped for. And it is pretty disappointing to get a present you didn’t want or can’t use. We’ve all got a draw full of Auntie Maud’s woollen socks gifts, or unidentifiable kitchen utensils or pound shop gadgets that answer questions no one was asking.
Then there are those rare times when we get a gift we didn’t know we wanted, had no idea it existed and no expectation of getting. I remember the year my Dad bought me a ‘TomyTronic’ 3D video game, not that it was anything like what we might think of as a video game today, it was a unit you held up to your eyes with buttons on top that made LCD space invaders move left & right and shoot – I’d never seen anything like it, I had had no idea there was such a thing it was one of the best gifts of my childhood.
Let’s ponder those words we just heard read from the prophet Isaiah:
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
Did anyone ask for this rude interruption of God into the world? Were we consulted on what gift we would like? Who did God ask about our 1st Christmas Present?
Nonetheless this is God’s eternal Christmas present to each and everyone of us. The gift of a baby boy, born in a stable to a life of poverty and hardship. A boy who was pre-ordained to change the world. A boy whose ultimate purpose in coming to us was to die for us. Whose sole aim was to pay the price for the stuff we muck up. By paying the price of our sin and taking our punishment.
It was the gift we didn’t know we needed and it changed everything.
God’s gift to us that first Christmas Day was the gift of freedom. The gift of life. People often talk of faith as if it’s a set of rules and regulations but it’s not. A Christian’s faith in God frees them from the things that bind us and the things that have power over us.
And the thing with this gift is we get the choice. God has given us free choice on whether or not we chose to open our lives to his gift to us. Sure we can all leave here tonight and carry on with the highs and lows our lives. Or we can chose to find out more about what he has done for us and perhaps to accept this gift from God. This gift of freedom.