Luke 2: 15-24
What is the best gift you will receive today? In many ways someone reading this in war-torn Syria is more likely to quickly identify the answer the whole of Advent prepares us for, than those of us about to disappear underneath a sea of wrapping paper and material gifts. Today is Christmas Day. Plan A is we receive the light of the world, Jesus Christ, more deeply into our hearts than ever before.
Does this mean we can all reclaim a piece of Christmas in our heart by doing absolutely nothing? In one sense the answer is yes! Paul tells us we receive the grace of God as ‘God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it’ (Ephesians 2:9). We can’t earn this particular gift and certainly none of us deserve it.
In another sense, however, the answer is no, not when it comes to the gifts of life, which have the capacity to transform us.
- I’ve spurned wonderful gifts (we’ve now moved away from socks and chocolates) because of my selfishness and pride.
- I’ve passed by the opportunity of forgiveness because I couldn’t accept I needed it.
- I’ve spurned the offer of peace because I preferred to struggle on and try and prove I could achieve it myself.
- I’ve turned away from love because I’ve not recognised I couldn’t earn it.
Now what about you? When have you not received what has been offered?
Sometimes the things we bring get in the way of receiving the greatest of gifts. The shepherds could have played the whole false humility gig and walked home, refusing to believe the angels meant what they said. They could have decided to not enter the stable and come under the spotlight of the grace and glory of God, thinking they were too dirty, smelly and unworthy. Instead ‘the shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them’. To receive the gift of God we provide nothing but an open heart.
One thing I know; those shepherds, but also everyone caught up in this wonderful story ever since, can never see anything in their life, or another’s in the same way ever again.
Prayer: Dear Lord. Thank you for getting me to the place where all I need to do is hold out my hands and open my heart to you. Establish/restore in me the joy of my salvation, which receiving you begins. Help me to fully ‘unwrap’ your gift, not leave you in the stable, but be Lord in practice over every part of my life now and always. Help me to re-focus my whole life and fix my eyes upon you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you’ve enjoyed our advent reflections, why not sign up to the monthly Seventy-two newsletter, where we will endeavour to encourage you as you journey on throughout the year, finding your way in the mission of God? Click here to receive these.