Christmas isn't about presents;
It's about GIFTS.
I know Christmas isn't about Santa or the packages under the tree, but the importance of gifts should not be overlooked at Christmas-time. Sometimes we try to incriminate the commercialized gifts of Christmas in order to heighten the spiritual importance of the season. But, the center of this holiday is in fact a gift.
Christmas is a celebration of the gift of Christ, but what kind of Christ do we receive? I know this may seem like a strange question, but it is something I've been ruminating on recently. At Easter we tend to focus on the majesty and power of Christ and his ministry; we celebrate the gifts of his miracles, his atonement, his sacrifice, resurrection, and power to save. This is a man of majesty and glory extending to us the gifts of immortality and salvation. But, what kind of Christ are we given at Christmas?
A sweet and tender babe.
Yes, this baby is the Messiah, the Lord of lords, the King of Kings, the Prince of peace, and he will perform the greatest gift of love known to all mankind, but for this one moment, he is the baby asleep in the hay. To his bedside come shepherds bringing admiration, wise men bringing frankincense, gold, and myrrh, a father bringing support and protection, and a mother giving not only of her physical body, but surely a soothing kiss and loving words. Being so small and new, what could this little baby possibly give?
The gift of HOPE and A PROMISE FULFILLED
Prophets had foretold of his coming for thousands of years and these prophecies were recorded in the Old Testament and also the Book of Mormon. Believers held onto the promise of a deliverer who would come and redeem them. He was a gift long expected. What must it have been like to believe in Christ when he had not yet come?
The Book of Mormon provides a testament of the people living in the Americas at the time just before Christ's birth. Some of these people began to believe that "the time was past for the words to be fulfilled...therefore [the] joy and [the] faith concerning this thing hath been in vain" (3 Nephi:1:5-6). But, others continued to "watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been in vain" (3 Nephi 1:8).
I imagine little doubts crept into the minds of those who believed, but harassment quickly turned to a life or death situation as "a day was set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass" (3 Nephi 1:9).
The joy is that he came and the promise was fulfilled.
Not only to those in America, but to those from the House of Israel awaiting their deliverance in the West, this baby brought the gift of hope and the assurance that their faith had not been in vain.
So maybe Christmas isn't about Santa and toys, but it most certainly is about a baby and his gift to each of us. Here is hope. Here is the hope to fuel our faith in God's promises made to each of us. Here is the hope of Christ's promise to save our souls and heal our sorrows.
In the midst of our holiday giving, let us remember and receive this precious gift.