The decorations in the shopping malls have appeared. Celebrations with family and friends are being booked. The gift shopping has begun. And this Sunday is the start of Advent. Christmas is coming.
At Christmas, we love to give and receive gifts. Some gifts are carefully chosen, whereas others are easily found. Some gifts are cherished for a lifetime, others are quickly forgotten.
What if there was a gift that suited us all? It’s not just a gift that we want. It’s a gift that we urgently need. This gift often looks familiar and ordinary to us. Sometimes we don’t look at it and we put it aside. But if we unwrap and accept this gift, it will give us more than we expect. It will give everlasting and overflowing joy.
At Christmas, we remember the gift that God has given us. Perhaps one of the most famous verses is John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ The gift that God gave us is his Son.
Advent is a time when we prepare ourselves for Christmas. It’s not just a time of shopping and celebration. It’s a time when we think about this gift. Perhaps you’d like to use this time for more deliberate reflection. If so, allow me to recommend some resources: an Advent devotion by Sinclair Ferguson, ‘The Dawn of Redeeming Grace’; a family devotion by Ed Drew, ‘The Adventure of Christmas’; or something to give to people who have questions about Christmas, ‘Is Christmas Believable?’ by Rebecca McLaughlin.
As you know, at St Andrew’s we do Christmas in a big way: Carols by Candlelight on 12 December, plus Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. Our theme this year is ‘The Gift’. Invite your friends and family to learn more about this gift and even open it.