On Christmas Eve at our church, our young people presented a play which looked at the birth of Jesus as being the greatest gift ever given to the world.
When we compare the gift of a child to all the other things on our Christmas wish lists, a baby might not look very impressive or important. When each of our three children were born, I remember looking at these little, helpless people and being amazed at what an incredible gift life is. We can’t buy it or earn it in any way. Life can only be given, and that’s what makes it a gift.
Whether we identify as followers of Jesus or not, it is good that we remember that. It is too easy to take our life and the lives of the people around us for granted. But life is so fragile and precious. Christmas is a good time to remember that and appreciate the lives of the people around us. They might frustrate or annoy us, but the people in our lives are a gift to us from a God who loves us and wants good for us. So give thanks for the fragile, precious gift of the people in your life, because they are God’s gift to us.
What is unique about the life of this baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas is that he is the gift of God’s life to us. The Apostle Paul tells us that the fullness of God lives in this little body (Colossians 1:19). Through this child, God overcomes everything that divides a flawed, broken, messed-up humanity from himself and he unites himself with us. God and people are joined together as one in the infant of Jesus. He does that to take everything that is wrong about us and carry it to the cross to put it to death. At the same time, he fills us with everything he is: goodness, purity, righteousness, wholeness, and so much more. He gifts us with his life, from which all life grows. Jesus describes the life he comes to give as ‘life to the full’ (John 10:10). This is life as it was meant to be from the beginning – life lived in perfect relationship with God, with each other, and with creation. His is a life that is stronger than death, and a life that will never end.
We look for life in all sorts of ways and places. Some of them help us discover what life is about. Other places where we look for life actually take life from us. In the end, like all the other gifts we will receive this Christmas, they have a use-by date. They will leave us wanting and looking for more, or better, or newer gifts. The gift of life that God gives to us through the infant Jesus, however, has no use-by date. It is everything we could ever hope for, and so much more.
At Christmas, we don’t just celebrate the birth of a baby a long time ago in a land far, far away. We celebrate the greatest gift God has ever given to us – life in his Son which begins now and will last forever.