He came down to earth from heaven,
And our eyes at last shall see Him,
|5||Not in that poor, lowly stable
With the oxen standing by
Shall we see Him, but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high.
Then like stars His children, crowned,
All in white, His praise will sound!
Have you ever noticed that not all gifts are equal?
Some of the gifts I so desperately longed for as a child, (and to my great and giddy joy – received on those glorious Christmas mornings so long ago) were also some of those gifts quickly discarded, forgotten and ignored. After the initial thrill wore off there just wasn’t enough merit in the gift itself to warrant any lasting connection. Although they were given from the best of intentions, given out of love and compassion … The reality of the toy or game I had asked for lacked substance and meaning.
Some gifts, on the other hand, the ones often coming un-asked for, and un-appreciated, turned out in the end to be some of the most endearing and engaging I ever received. The kind of gift that often deflates a present-gorging youngster, stalling the voracious consumption of ribbons and wrappings and bows in a devastating swath of frenzied avarice … if not bringing it to a complete standstill … These “clunkers” often turned out to be the best gifts I can remember. (Despite what my younger self may have thought at the time.)
But whether the gift is truly great or not only comes out in the wash of time and experience … In the ups and downs of life beyond the Christmas tree. It is the gift that has meaning beyond Christmas day that is truly great. It is the gift that has meaning in our daily life that is something to be treasured.
I was reminded of this once again, as for the last three days I have sat at the bedside of a dear saint who is dying. Together we have been spending our time reading again the Christmas Story. I was struck, at how precious and poignant these so-familiar words are. I was struck by how unfamiliar I was to the great depth and meaning there contained in them for not just those who gather in joy and plenty with family … but also for those who lay alone in their sick beds … and for those surrounded by family, while on their death beds. There is a powerful substance and a meaning in these Christmas Words -a life and death substance … an eternal meaning.
No, not all gifts are equal. And the gift of God’s Son, born this Christmas Day so long ago … this is a gift beyond compare! A gift not always looked for, or appreciated, but one that continually grows in the wash of time and experience. A gift that rises from humble beginnings, and quaint observances to the heart of all our hope and consolation, all our peace and comfort in this life. A gift that has eternal meaning right from the Christmas manger all the way through to the Good Friday cross, the Easter Sunday tomb, and beyond into heaven itself. The gift of God’s Son is for every day of our life, be it good, bad, joyous or grieving. A wonderful gift for new days. A breathtaking gift for our last days.
May you, dearest friends, have the gift of seeing this infant Jesus, this precious gift of God, through new eyes, as I have these past few days. May you hear the familiar Christmas story again for the first time with brand new ears. Whatever your circumstances, wherever your life may be at, may you be engaged by this most endearing present … not just on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but in every day of your life to come!