The Christmas gift exchange at my parent’s house on Christmas Day was super crazy when our kids were growing up. Between me and my brother, there are six grandkids. After we had all eaten our fill of my mother’s amazing cooking, the kids would begin begging to open presents.
In a matter of minutes, my parent’s living room floor would be covered in boxes, bows, and wrapping paper. It was a free for all. It was hard to tell who had more joy showing on their faces, the grandkids or the grandparents. It was both wonderful and completely ridiculous.
Invariably, after all the hoopla would die down, one of the kids would notice a present or two left under the tree. They would ask their grandma who it was for… hoping against hope it was a forgotten gift… maybe for them, as if they had not already received more than enough gifts. My mom would always tell them who it was for- either a friend or another relative they had not yet had a chance to see for the holiday.
“Oh.” The child would say.
After a few minutes, another child would see the gift and ask the same question. My mother would answer again that it was for someone else.
“Oh.” That child would say.
After another kid or two would spy the gift and ask again and again, my mom would gather the gift and go put it away, out of sight… out of mind. The absence of the unopened gift settled the kids and they could then focus on all the wonderful things they had gotten.
The unopened gift under the tree posed such a problem because who likes an unopened gift? It sits there beckoning to everyone. “Open me. Come on. I was meant to be opened! Don’t just leave me sitting here.”
When Jesus was born, his parents took him to the temple as was their Jewish custom. There, they met a man named Simeon. Simeon had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would live to see the promised Messiah, the Savior.
Simeon was at the temple the day Mary and Joseph brought Jesus there. He took the child into his arms and looking into the face of God, he knew instantly he had lain eyes on the Messiah.
And he said,
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
Simeon saw the gift and new it was an important moment. He knew that child in his arms was the long awaited one… God’s gift to humanity.
At Christmastime, Christians often say that Jesus is our real gift. It’s trite, but it’s true. Through him we are made whole, connected once again to the Father, justified and made holy.
This Christmas season he beckons to everyone, Receive me. Come on. I was meant for you! Don’t just leave me here discarded or forgotten in the cloud of your distraction.
Let’s make sure we’ve opened all the gifts this year. The ones carefully picked out and chosen just for us by friends and family, and the one sent to us by our heavenly Father.
Many of us will acknowledge the gift that Jesus is, but many fewer of us will actually open it and experience him to the fullest. Like Simeon, we hold the gift in our arms, what are we going to do with Him now?