Christmas is about what God has given to us. We give gifts to each other as a reminder of the greatest gift ever given. That gift was pink and wriggling, gift-wrapped in cloth and delivered in a grubby wooden box. Jesus Christ is God’s indescribable gift to a sinful, wayward, hurting and desperate world. And Jesus is also his greatest gift to you personally.
The carol ‘In the bleak midwinter’, recognising this great gift of love from God to humankind, asks the question: ‘What can I give him, poor as I am?’ And that is a good thought. Knowing how much God has done for you, what will you do for him this Christmas?
On Eeyore’s birthday, Winnie-the-Pooh decides to give him a jar of honey, and Piglet decides to give him a big red balloon. But on the way to Eeyore’s field, Pooh eats all the honey and has to give just an empty jar. And Piglet falls over, bursts the balloon, and has to hand over to Eeyore just the sad limp soggy remains.
If Pooh had not been so greedy and if Piglet had not been so clumsy, their gifts would have been better. But the story is saved by Eeyore, who delights in his gifts, a useful pot, and something to put in it; and we picture him putting the burst balloon into the empty pot and taking it out again, over and over, with great joy, for the rest of the day.
God knows our sins and failings and misfortunes. He forgives us and loves us, and he will not despise our gifts when they are given in response to his love. Give him your obedience, give him your time, your talents, your money, your prayers, your service, your heart. Invite friends to a carol service. Go the extra mile with the Christmas chores at home. And do these things not to earn his love, but as a way of saying thank you for the immense love he has already lavished on you, by coming in the person of our Lord Jesus, to save you, forgive you, protect you and be with you forever.
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).
And may I therefore wish you all a happy, happy Christmas. From James.
(P.S. I want to say a big thank you to Elaine Mitchell, the editor of FOCUS, for another year of service to us. And to all who have written for the magazine, including Kate and Charley for the Reformation series. And to those who printed, folded, and stapled.)