The search for the perfect gift. It can be stressful.
Will the person like it? Is it too much or not enough? Will they value it as much as we do? The day after Christmas is when stores get crowded again as gifts returned. I don't like to give a gift thinking that the recipient will want to return it for something else, but at the same time I recognize that it makes more sense for the person to have what THEY want.. It can all be incredibly stressful and makes me just want to hand out gift cards.
Gift cards seem like the great solution, but someone once told me that to hand out gift cards was a way to escape the creative effort of thoughtfully selecting an item the recipient would truly like. Perhaps. I guess it is akin to saying, "I can't be bothered. Pick out your own darn gift." However, as one who loves to shop, I LOVE a gift card. Bring them on!
See what I mean? Gift giving is complicated.
Then there is the wrapping of the gift. I love a beautifully wrapped present. Ive received gifts that were so beautifully wrapped I didn't want to even open them. I've watched the Wrap a Gift How To's and scrolled through terrific suggestions on Pinterest. People do delightful things with a brown paper bag and sprig of evergreen. I admit I scroll through these. I marvel. I dream. But if I was to attempt, it would be a Pinterest Fail. Ask anyone who has received a gift from me, you may be lucky if I include tissue with the gift bag. Thank goodness for Gift Bags.
The gift of Christmas however was never a perfectly wrapped package. Jesus was a gift to us and he was wrapped in bands of cloth, laid in a feeding trough. The Love that came down at Christmas was not in a beautiful idyllic setting, it was a forgotten stable in a crowded town of Bethlehem.
The other night, I watched my daughter wrap a gift for her sister and it took me back to the struggles of wrapping, calculating the size of the sheet, etc. And I smiled as I watched. I didn't jump in to take over. Because Love is wrapped exactly like that. Gods love is wrapped in the life of Mary and Joseph, a complicated, imperfect situation. The town of Bethlehem made no preparations for this King. Yet God's perfect Love cast out fear from Marys' heart. And Josephs. Life doesn't have to look perfect for us to know that God is there with us.
God with Us. The ultimate gift exchange of the incarnation is the exchange that takes place between Divinity and Humanity. Eternal and Mortal. The Word Made Flesh The Goodness of God imparted into the Heart of Humanity to set right all the wrong of our world.
And the Bible says God was pleased to dwell here. Just as we are.
And this exchange is a two way gift exchange. It's between you and Jesus.
You bring him your heart and he will impart peace, love, comfort and joy.
What gift can you bring? Yourself. Don't worry about what you are wrapped up in. God didn't come into the world to condemn us. God is pleased to dwell in your soul. Pleased to bring light into your inner being, to shine into the darkness and lead you to new life. It's a great exchange. Merry Christmas.