“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name ‘Immanuel’ – God with us” Matthew 1:23
It doesn’t seem fair that the Christmas season, so full of celebration and goodwill, brings with it stress, short-tempers, and exhaustion. The holiday chaos has nothing to do with the meaning of Christmas. In spite of the fact that the essence of Christmas celebration is “Christ is born!” and “God is with us!”, we leave Him behind as we scurry about doing our shopping, gifting, and entertaining. No matter how we try to scale down the holiday schedule, new obligations and unexpected mishaps foil our best-laid plans. There have been too many years of my adult life when December 1st signaled a twenty-five day marathon, with flickering Advent candles at the finish line.
A few years ago I realized that part of my holiday havoc was my penchant for perfect gifts. I love giving presents and I strive to think of and search for meaningful Christmas gifts. While gift-giving is a good thing, its symbolic purpose is more important. We give presents to others because God gave His greatest gift to us – His Son. So, shouldn’t we first give a gift to God in return?
How can we, mere humans with our heads just above wrapping paper, give anything of worth to the King of kings? What can we give the One who gave to us Eternal Life?
We can give God our presence.
When our Lord looks at us, He sees the gifts of the Spirit He has poured into us – love, joy, peace, hope, kindness, courage, and humility. He does not see us pulling our hair out, racing through traffic, haggling over sale prices, or snapping at our kids. God sees within us His Son and our hearts that truly want to serve Him.
“In Your presence is fullness of joy…” (Psalm 16:11)
I have discovered when I start each day of the holidays with God, it seems brighter, richer, and more purposeful. Because God unwraps the gifts He put in my spirit like love, joy, and peace, opportunities to share these gifts seem to appear out of nowhere. No longer does the day’s To-Do List control my schedule, but I have a sense of a Holy Agenda.
When the Christmas Season seems overwhelming and demanding to you, present yourself in prayer to God at the beginning of each day and ask Him how He wants you to use His gifts. Invite a struggling family to dinner? Visit someone feeling lonely? Help a single Mom wrap Christmas presents? Take chili to the volunteer firemen? Bake cookies for community workers? Make a date with new friends to go to church and lunch? Send boxes of gifts to an orphanage? Commit to praying for those who struggle in spiritual darkness?
God’s list of gifts goes on and on, wrapped in the true spirit of Christmas – sharing His Son, Immanuel, with the world.