Children whose birthdays fall near Christmas Day struggle to contain their joyous excitement and anticipation of Christmas AND birthday presents this week. Some children may have experienced the surprise and disappointment of a relative or friend who hands them a wrapped gift with the words, “Here, this is for your birthday and Christmas.” “Oh . . . ,” the child replies with mixed feelings of gratitude and injustice, thinking, “My best friend Abby with her June birthday gets Christmas gifts AND a birthday gift in summer.”
We excitedly anticipate joy. We want and desire it to come. God gives joy at Christmas and offers it every day to us as children of God, regardless of age. “All things came into being through him [the Word]” (John 1:3). This Word, this Christ Child, this Babe of Bethlehem, this Immanuel, this gift beyond words came to the world from God’s hand. Yes! Joy to the world! Joy to you and me!
God gives the Word. God generously gives Christ, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God offers us a gift, today. God offers a trusting relationship, in Christ, each day. A wise person accepts a gift, with gratitude, appreciation, and a sense of shared joy between Giver and receiver. “To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12).
May our gratitude today overflow. May our eternal appreciation rise high. May it pile high as a deep snowdrift above any demand that a self-concerned child with a December birthday might feel about not getting the expected number of wrapped presents.
Give praise with excitement. Give generously. Give compassion. In God’s great grace be a giver. Dear Christ-following friends, rejoice!
Darrell F. Johnson, servant leader and pastor
Palmyra Moravian Church, Cinnaminson, New Jersey