Can you think of any more delightful moments in a child’s life than Christmas? Decorations and trees and lights. Special foods. Gathering of families. The anticipation of Christmas morning. The joyful sounds of laughter, the irrepressible squeals of delight. Sparkling eyes. Bouncing excitement. What is it about Christmas that causes this unmatched display of happiness?
Gifts. No, not just gifts. Christmas gifts!
Christmas gifts are mysteries—wrapped up mysteries. Those mysteries often are placed under a tree where they tantalize the imaginations of those who hope to open them on Christmas morn. The giving and receiving of gifts is enhanced by this mysterious element of seeing but not knowing.
I remember, when I thought no one was looking, I would pick up presents and shake them, listening for a clue as to what might be inside. I was irresistibly drawn to the tree and to its papered mysteries. When the morning of unveiling came, the electricity in the atmosphere was almost unbearable. It was the morning when the many mysteries were opened for all to see. Why did this unveiling of wrapped mysteries capture my heart and soul so powerfully?
It reflects God’s kind of giving. And the excitement is a godly excitement.
Yet it seems that the excitement is short-lived and, in some ways, disappointing. The reality is never quite as wonderful as we had hoped. The toys break, the batteries die, our interest wanes, and each Christmas becomes passé; and we toss it away like so much wrapping paper. Then the next year, we do it all again.
Perhaps the Christmas holiday is a “wrapping” of sorts that hides a mysterious gift. Perhaps it is that deep mystery that creates the excitement that all of us experience, even as adults. Perhaps we need to open this Christmas Gift and discover with our families this mystery that is Jesus.
Jesus is God’s eternal plan. He is the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. He is God’s intervention in time; and he came for a broken humanity to bring life and newness. He is the One who will unroll the heavens like a curtain and reveal himself fully at the end of time.
He is the mystery beneath the wrappings of our holiday. Perhaps all of us need to be more intentional about unwrapping Jesus when we are with our families. I suggest the following verse as a focus for us this Christmas.
Colossians 2:2-3 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
How do we unwrap Jesus for our families at Christmas? We slow down and stop for him. Simple and basic things are mature things; allow them to work in your family. Taking the time to extract the gift of Jesus from the trappings of our modern holiday will yield a deeper satisfaction in all of us. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Read parts of the story: Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1:18-2:23.
2. Sing a carol, or sing many carols.
3. Dad, lead the family in prayer, praying that each one will know the reality of Jesus.
4. Do something as a family outside the home: sing carols to your neighbors, feed the hungry, take a Christmas meal to someone, share your laughter by inviting someone to your home.
5. Join other believers in a worshipful gathering.
After all, what is it that we want to give our kids at Christmas? What do we really want them to discover, to unwrap, and to carry with them? Is it not Jesus? All the other gifts point to him, because he is the Gift that does not disappoint. His joy is not short-lived. And when we enter into his reality, we will never stop being filled with wonder. He is what the “Christ morning” is all about. Let’s wake up to him.