A distinctive feature of the way we celebrate Christmas is the giving of gifts. As society has become more materialistic, and driven by an increasing desire for ‘growth’ (economic, social, personal) – our gifts have multiplied in number and expanded in range. The challenge of finding the right thing for a particular person.
Of course we want to please the recipients of our giving, and to spend our money well (good investment!). These criteria are important to givers and receivers. An expression of the greater perfection we try to act out at Christmas. Along with the provision of favourite foods and special treats.
From Presents to Presence
But what is really happening in the giving and receiving of gifts? An acknowledgement of a valued relationship. An expression of love and affection. An ownership of obligation or duty. In each or any of these transactions, the core is the giver making themselves present in the life of the receiver – as an act of grace (freely offered) and as a sign of connection not taken for granted, but enhanced by being expressed generously. Presents make present the giver into the life of the receiver – for good, with grace.
Presence as Present to Us
And this is the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ. A gift to Mary and Joseph in the stable. A gift of a chorus of glad tidings and peacefulness to shepherds in their ordinary lives. A gift of authority, welfare and organised worship to Wise Men from the high civilisation of the East.
A gift to each of us if we will acknowledge the presence of God in the presentation to us of this life. A gift bringing real goodness and grace into ordinary lives, into the structures and rituals we need to hold us together and help us to make sense of our deep instinct to find peace on earth, goodwill among people, and a sign of that Glory which gathers all these fundamental human conditions into the hope of heaven.
Hark – Herald Angels Sing
I am sure that each of us will choose the presents we give with great care. To show our love and affection to family and friends, and to make ourselves present to them in goodness and grace.
May we take time to allow our Father, to give His gift to us – a Son, a person who can be present in our lives - a Saviour bringing and enabling goodness, grace and glory.
Hark the Herald Angels Sing,
Glory to our new born King.