To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:3b (NIV)
I played a game at a Christmas party one year that stirred up a very
The game started innocently enough. We passed out packages, expressing delight over creative wrapping techniques, then set about tearing through paper and tape. There were no extravagant offerings; only $10-limit surprises. Once all the gifts were revealed, we began.
The rules were simple. If we wanted to keep our own present, we did nothing. But if we wanted someone else’s gift, we could take it and give them ours. Then, time limit set, we began taking turns.
Enter selfishness. Cheap gifts that would never have captured our attention became obsessions. We waited, coveting one special item, plotting how to get it for ourselves. Nothing stood in our way: not kindness, not consideration, and certainly not sacrifice.
How different is Christ. He had all the riches of Heaven, but left them behind to give us life. He gave willingly, wholeheartedly—sacrificially. And we who were poor and destitute, without hope in this world, received blessings and riches beyond compare. Jesus Christ took our rags and gave us robes of righteousness. He took our mourning and gave us joy. He took our anxiety and gave us peace that passes all understanding.
Thankfully, He did have one obsession after all: to win us. This is our Savior, our God—and our friend.
Lord, help us to remember you and to give with your Spirit this Christmas season. Thank you for all the gifts you give, especially for giving yourself—in a manger, on a cross, and in our circumstances.
© 2011 Katherine A. Fuller