GreatGiftI may be a year late but it was worth it never the less. This would not be the first Christmas where gifts were not the focus. There have been several seasons over the last decade when the Christmas focus was more about presence than presents. This year proved the importance of the presence of Jesus – THE Greatest Gift.

This December I had the opportunity to lead a small group for the four weeks of advent – using Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift ~ Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmascomplete with resources for Jesse Tree Ornaments. I have to admit I was fed more than I led. And that is a great gift of the presence of Christ in this Christmas season. Going into this advent season , I knew it would be hard – our family had lost my father this past July and Yuletide Greetings, merry making and festivities were the furthest things from my mind. So in an effort to drown out the noise of the hustle and bustle, I was longing for some comfort and joy. And I made it to the other side of Christmas – broken and hurting, worn out and tired. I felt a sense of certitude yet still questioning – What is the Greatest Gift? Was is Jesus? Love? Hope? Peace? Joy? As a leader of this group – I felt I had missed it – the greatest gift. I feared that in the midst of Christmas rush that I had missed the point. I was sure that Jesus was the gift we were talking about – the arrival of the long awaited Messiah is what Advent is all about.

Still, I felt left out of the message – though I was not. By Christmas Eve I was emotional and hollow for the presence of my father and family – and as quickly as I had sunken into my hurt the words came – ‘Rejected at the inn, holy God comes in small to where you feel rejected and small. God is with you now. Wherever you are – in a soundless cry or hidden brokenness or in your ache – God always wants to be with you. You are not ever left alone in this. We are never left alone in this; GOD is with us.’ The Greatest Gift, pg 246.
JesseTree
I believe that is exactly what Jesus came for – this is why we celebrate, this is why remember, this is the greatest gift – Jesus the greatest gift. Love the greatest gift – He did it for love. The presence of Christ; the God-man  – there are no Christmas presents that compare to this. Immanuel, God with us. We are never alone and we are loved.

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Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
Christina RossettiChristmastide (1885)

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. ~1 John 4:16

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