Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Unwrapped

Let’s face it, sometimes Christmas can feel like a big burden. I’m mostly referring to the shopping. First of all you have to think of something to get for everyone, then you have to scrounge up the funds, which can be a difficult task. Sometimes buying Christmas gifts means giving up something that you really want. Then there’s the whole thought that you might be wasting money on something that the person won’t use and doesn’t really need. (Okay, maybe this is something that only practical minded little me struggles with.) Then, there’s the receiving of the gifts. It’s so easy to sit in horror and dread as a set of excited eyes is glued to you. You open the gift and do your best to pretend that you like it, but inside you’re thinking “This is not what I had in mind,” or “They were thinking of me when they bought this?” or “Man, I didn’t get what I really wanted.” Even though we may all tend to have similar thoughts once or twice over the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, there is so much more to think about.

This whole gift giving thing points to something so much bigger. Let me unfold some splendid parallels for you. Why do we buy Christmas presents for people? Is it because they deserve them, or because they did something to earn them? No, when it all comes down to it, we buy Christmas gifts to show the recipient that we love and care about them. There is certainly a sacrifice involved. Sometimes this sacrifice is small and rarely felt, but financial purchases outside of the norm are sacrifices. This is reminiscent of what Christ did for us. He gave us the gift of His life here on earth, and then His death. He sacrificed Heaven and so much more, not because we deserve it, but because He loves us and He wants us to know that.

There is more to this interesting parallel though. What about us as the recipients of God’s magnificent gift? Just as I get frustrated with Christmas gifts sometimes because they don’t fit the mold I have decided they should fit into, I get frustrated with salvation because it doesn’t look like I think it should look. Sometimes I feel like I deserve salvation, like I deserve better. I don’t deserve salvation, just like I don’t deserve Christmas presents. They are wonderful gifts of love and sacrifice.

I pray that as I both give and receive Christmas gifts over this holiday season that Christ will help me to remember the great gift that He has given me and that He will open my heart so that I can accept that gift with totally open arms.