Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

December 21, 2004

A Sense of the Gift

Yesterday I said that Christmas begins with “the sense of a Giver.” That, of course, is not all there is to say about this over-burdened holiday. But it’s not a bad place to begin. To begin what, you ask? To begin to disentangle Christmas, as best we can, from the grappling hooks of culture and history.

So, begin with the Giver. The Father of Lights. The Giver of all good things. The Master Potter, the Creator, the One who spoke all things into being and said, at the end of His labors, that it was good.

And then to the Giver's gift! It is not at all like other gifts. It is no ordinary thing, chosen from a shelf in a store from among a thousand others just the same, then wrapped up in fetching paper and tied with a grandiose bow. Such a gift would not befit the Giver. No, in this case the gift is extravagant, but comes in a plain wrapper. Not merely plain, so seems this gift, not merely humble, but even--in the old sense of the word--–mean. Nothing at all, really. Easily shoved aside in preference to larger, grander packages under the tree.

But this gift is from the Giver. Pause here to consider the true nature of His gift. This gift was the Word, the logos, the very wisdom of God enfleshed; it was with God from the beginning, and it was God. In this Gift was life, and that life was the light of men. The true light, incomprehensible, the light that shines in darkness, and that no darkness can encompass.

A grand gift, no? But see, it’s only a baby, you say. Born into what we would surely call poverty these days. And in a barn, no less. A helpless baby, vulnerable, conceived in a troubled land to care-worn parents. This? This was the gift? This child the logos of God, dwelling among us in the very shape and substance of mortality?

Years later, Paul, a follower of the Way, speaking of this same Gift, this baby, would write that, "“Though He was in very nature God," He did not grasp or cling to godliness, but made Himself nothing! And being found in the appearance of a baby in the womb of a girl, He continued to humble Himself, to subject himself to the confines of time and mortality, here in the world of men, and to walk the walk of a man, even unto a humiliating and seemingly senseless death.”

However you and yours might celebrate Christmas, if you too are a follower of the Way, this is what you celebrate. John, one of the first such followers, said simply, "We beheld His glory." Angels abounded at the scene of His birth. The Eternal had entered into time, for the purpose of retrieving the lost. God's great plan to save His creation was coming to pass at last. In a barn. In David's town, Bethlehem.

And the darkness could not comprehend it.


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