We have a tradition in our family. Each year, at Christmas, we set out three beautifully wrapped packages. And we never open them.
Share the Gift
I’m not much for detail so my gift wrapping skills have always been a little lacking. Half the time I don’t even wrap a package. Why bother if the recipient is just going to tear it off anyway?! But there were these gifts, once…
The Meaning in Gifts
As a young mother, I decided one year to take three empty boxes and wrap them as beautifully as I could. I made my own tags out of old Christmas cards. I even used my fingernail to press in the tape, nearly erasing all traces of it. A professional touch. I found some real ribbon and other crafty embellishments.
The boxes were still empty but they looked fabulous.
On each tag I wrote the names of my family members, including myself right after the word, “To”. After the word “From”, I wrote, “Jesus”.
Also on the cards was written a single word; the word represented what would be in the box, if it could be contained in something so paltry as a box.
One card read, “Example”; another, “Love”; the last one, “The Atonement”.
The Meaning in Celebrations
Really, Christmas is a celebration of these three things.
The example of Christ that shows us what, in real life, is truly possible. His love that gives us the power we need to follow through. And the Atonement, that makes everything, even those things we don’t yet understand, not just possible, but probable. Christmas is a celebration of power. And courage.
Perhaps some of us, or all of us, carry in our minds a peaceful picture of that sacred, silent night when Christ was born. Angels are singing Away in a Manger, the baby is clean and Mary has brushed her hair. This is a sweet picture and not necessarily one we need to divest ourselves of, but it is only part of the story.
That night that Christ was born, John tells us in Revelations 12, a great dragon stood before Mary and her baby, sweeping with his tail, one third of the host of heaven, flinging them down to earth. A war was raging all around that silent night; Michael and his army fighting against the dragon. They fight him still, but he was flung to earth as well, and we now call him the devil.
John Eldridge writes,
“As Phillip Yancey says, I have never seen this version of the story on a Christmas card. Yet it is the truer story, the rest of the picture of what was going on that fateful night. Yancey calls the birth of Christ the Great Invasion, ‘a daring raid by the rulers of the forces of good into the universe’s seat of evil.’ Spiritually speaking, this is no silent night. It is D-Day.”
But Christ triumphed and because He did, so will we. It doesn’t so much matter when He was born, it only matters that He came. And did what He was called to do. Born to do.
Ancient peoples who had never heard of this Jesus have historically celebrated the power of light in the darkness at this time of year – this, the darkest time of the year. And because He is generous with his example, His love and His vicarious work of salvation through the Atonement, we share in the power of His light at any time of year. Whatever the level of darkness. I am grateful he had the courage to share His gifts.
We’re the Gift
In small ways and large ways, in styled packaging or yesterday’s newsprint, we share the gift when we take care of our families, generously forgive and go out of our way for others. Its not our place to try to reproduce His gifts, we only need to let the Light shine through us. Marianne Williamson writes:
“‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone….Our power lies in our clarity about why we’re on the earth.”
Those three wrapped packages sit on our mantle all throughout the Christmas season. With our names listed on the tags, the gifts become personal and real. As real as the fight is that rages all around.
C.S. Lewis called this life “enemy occupied territory”, and it is. When I feel the darkness of my days and times, I hold onto the Light that comes from these three gifts. And I know, I can do anything.
Here’s to Christmas and Sharing the Gift. Oorah.