It was Christmas morning and my godparents’ living room was filled to capacity with kids, a sea of crumpled up wrapping paper, and sparkling new toys. I was a contemplative teenager with nothing left to open (it didn’t take long to open gift card envelopes); so I sat back and, for the first time, beheld the joy that spreads across children’s faces as they unwrap presents. The view was breathtaking.
Shortly thereafter I received another gift that was, by most standards, peculiar: a pair of black leg warmers. That was many years ago, but I still cherish that memory (and those legwarmers from my Grams). As odd as it may have been to gift legwarmers, they were precisely what I needed to save my shins from the stress of rigorous dancing. And it told me that my Grams knew me and what I needed and cared enough to provide it.
Hopefully it’s not too much of a stretch to see why her gift reminds me of another peculiar gift, that of a babe in a manger.Michael Nortons writes that “God surprises us” through the Incarnation, “and his name is Jesus.” Kenneth Samples adds, “It is unique to Christianity to discover a God who takes the initiative in becoming flesh in order to redeem sinful human beings.”
It’s this entirely unexpected but much-needed gift that we celebrate each Christmas and every day. That God knows us and what we need (redemption) and cared enough to provide it by coming in the flesh and completing his work on the cross.
This Christmas, may you experience—and share—the joy from the unexpected gift of Jesus.