Monday, on my day off, I finally went Christmas shopping. I was in the mall in Sandusky from about 11AM to 3PM or so, and I was surprised by how empty it was. I guess I just expected it to be crowded because it was the week before Christmas, but apparently Monday afternoon is a great time to Christmas shop! There were no crowds to navigate. No one was jostling me in the store isles. No one competing for the attention of sales clerks. It was so quiet, that as I walked by the Christmas display in the middle of the concourse, a bored and lonely Santa Claus waved to me as I passed by — I waved back. Oh yeah… there was no line at Auntie Ann’s Pretzels either… not that I stopped there or anything. Ok, I did.
I admit, Christmas time is the only time that I enjoy shopping, because I am excited to buy gifts for those that I love. I look forward to seeing their faces as they open them on Christmas morning. The joy of Christmas is in the giving — not in the receiving. Gifts given out of love and from the heart.
Of course, the greatest gift ever given was given to us all on that very first Christmas Day when Jesus was born. Remember the words of the angel to the shepherds that night? “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” I’ve often wondered how excited that angel must have been to give such an announcement. No doubt the angels were privy to God’s plan to redeem Humanity through Jesus and now… finally… the gift had been given!
The joy was in the Gift given to mankind. A Gift that would purchase their redemption. A Gift that would extend forgiveness. A Gift that would secure their eternal future. The Gift of the very Son of God. So, as you give gifts this year and receive gifts… make sure you take time to reflect on THE GIFT. The Gift of Jesus. The Gift of Jesus given out of love and from the heart of the Father. And remember… a gift is only a gift… if it is received.