A bow, a ribbon, Christmas wrapping paper, note card, a box, wrapping tissue, and the gift are the ingredients to developing anticipation and wonder.

First, the bow. Think of the bow as the Bethlehem star, that beacon of light which led the wise men to their adoration of the Christ Child, showering Jesus with gifts of gold, frankencence and myrrh. The Bethlehem star, that gift of guiding light, signals the birth of a great king. It reminds us that Christ is the light of the world. Christ continues to guide us day by day. It is this light of Christ that shines in and through us.

The ribbon is the road travelled by the magi to see the Christ Child. It is the path the shepherds took to adore him in the manger. As we daily engage in the Lord’s Prayer (a portion of a rabbinic prayer) we engage in the Way of Christ, not in the way of the self-absorbed world.

The Christmas paper, more than anything else, signals the hope and anticipation for the gift inside.  The Christmas wrapping is the promise given to us that there is a gift all ready and waiting for us. It is not just any wrapping paper. Wrapping paper marks the special mements of our lives. Christmas paper

  • is not baby shower paper
  • is not wedding paper
  • is not bridal shower paper
  • is not anniversary paper
  • neither is it birthday paper.

But this is Christmas paper lovingly wrapped around the treasure, that gift inside. No onter wrapping paper denotes the promise of the Messiah as this does.

Yes, this does mark the chronological birth of Jesus, making it a sort of birthday paper. What makes the difference with this birthday present is that Christ is the eternal gift of the eternal promise of God. It is eternal promise wrapping paper.

The note card says “Just for you for Christmas”. That does mean you. We as a collective of humanity are first and foremost special individually and specifically loved.

The box is the manger: “I bring you news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

As the manger cradled the Christ Child, the simple cardboard box cradles the Christmas gift. We too are simple cardboard boxes and lowly mangers. but that is precisely whom God chooses to live within. The Christ child in the manger–the Christmas gift in the box– Christ living within us.

The wrapping tissue wraps the gift so carefully, so gingerly as the swaddling clothes Mary wrapped the baby Jesus in. Swaddling clothes are also referred to in Euripides, Aristotle, Hippocrates and Plutarch. It is frequently in medical works. Mary, lovingly and protectively as only a new mother can,  wrapped her new born son in swaddling clothes, garments which were in medical usage of the time. We wrap out most precious gift in tissue paper to keep it from harm.

The promised gift born of love. In this universal Christmas gift, we receive the greatest gift of love, the Holy Bible signifying the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us. The Christmas day reading is John chapter 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

This eternal gift has been given to us, to shine in our hearts through us to all others, to be a lamp unto our feet. This Word of Life lights our life. Partake of this living Word, this eternal universal Christmas gift each day, as it gives life and lifts us out of our darkness and robs sin of its sting.

Gift giving reveals the heart of the giver: “For God loved the world so much that God gave his only begotten Son, that whoever will believe in him shall not die but have eternal life.” This gift also promises to reveal the heart of the receiver. God’s Salvation in Jesus reveals how utterly corrupt our heart is, that there is nothing we can do in ourselves to repare the breach between ourselves and God. Our own efforts are tainted with selfish motivation and lack of humility.

Do we dare to accept this gift? Any gift can be refused–no less the gift of the Christ Child. How absurd it would be if we refused a Christmas gift properly wrapped, signed by someone who loves us, addressed to us, and contained what we desperately needed, and we refused the gift saying, “I don’t believe it!”

It would be better to say, “I’ll take it even though I find it hard to believe. Help my unbelief!” Choose to accept the awe and wonder of being so greatly loved.” God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). It is a gift of connectedness, of not having to go it alone in this world, of the helping hand up. Renew that child within today by accepting the gift of the Christ Child.

Janet Wiebe

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