2 Corinthians 9:15 – Thank God for his gift that is too wonderful for words. (CEV)
A Christmas gift for a bride-to-be has to be just right. The year was 1948. Jean and I were engaged. Now it was time to get an engagement Christmas present. The choice was easy. It was a cedar-lined hope chest, the biggest and the best available. On Christmas morning it was presented with all the pomp and ceremony appropriate for this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. I was ecstatic. Everything had worked out perfectly. The Christmas before, I had given her a string of pearls. For me it was not a big deal. A friend had helped me choose them and had assured me that she would like them.
A few days ago I asked Jean what she remembered about the hope chest. The truth came out. Whatever words of pleasure she may have spoken in 1948, her real feelings were, "What am I going to do with that big thing?" She had a very small apartment 90 miles away in Toronto. How was she ever going to get it there, let alone find a place to put it. Then, suddenly, she blurted out a genuine appreciation for the pearls. I had completely forgotten them.
So much for all the scrambling and chatter about our giving and receiving of Christmas gifts. One person's delight and treasure may be another person's pain. That is what can make Christmas a time of stress and exhaustion instead of the occasion for peace and joy that God intended. Our best hope for keeping Christmas with its true meaning is to listen again and again to the simple words by Paul: "Thank God for his gift that is too wonderful for words." His gift; that's the secret. But it may come in so many ways.
The phone rings. A cheery voice asks, "How are you this morning? Did you have a better night? The pain has gone?" Good! We will keep praying. We love you." That was Sarah. She checks in every day.
Another call comes. Another cheery voice assures, "Jim and I will be over this morning to finish putting in the wood." It was Stewart. He and Jim help with odd jobs year-round. One more call. It is Mary. She and Jack will take you shopping this afternoon.
Thank God for his gift; the gift of his own life and Spirit; his own loving and caring in human flesh. He was in the Child of Bethlehem, of course, but also in Sarah down the road, in Stewart around the corner; in Mary and Jack across from the school. We hang up the phone. We feel strangely elated. We feel warm and happy inside. Someone cares after all. Thank God for his gift of himself that is indeed too wonderful for words.
Prayer: Our great and gracious God and Father, we thank you for the gift of yourself in our friends and fellow believers. It is truly too wonderful for words. Please open our eyes to recognize your very real presence wherever you choose to reveal yourself. Through Jesus Christ your Son and our Saviour. Amen.