One of the Christmas traditions in our family is to hide gifts within gifts. My wife
started it years ago when she wrapped a small gift for one of our children inside a
larger but much less desirable gift. She took great delight in seeing their puzzled
expressions as they opened a present that seemed to be of little value followed by relief and a return of their original enthusiasm when they noticed the gift within the gift. It wasn't what they first thought it would be. It was something much better.
Christmas is like that for me. It's a gift within a gift. Some traditions fill us with
anticipation for things that often are little more than bright shiny wrapping. Don't get me wrong. I like those things too. This Christmas I'll introduce my two year old
granddaughter to Santa and Rudolph as we sing about jingling bells and snowmen. I expect to hear giggles of delight over those "gifts." We'll all enjoy them with her until there is nothing left but memories and the anticipation of next year.
But wait! There's more. After the last package has been opened and wrapping is
strewn all over the floor, we look around, not fully satisfied and maybe a little
disappointed. God says, "Keep looking! There's something else." There's a gift
within a gift. It's one that leaves us with much more than memories.
This gift wasn't what many were expecting. When it was unwrapped they wondered, "Is this it? Should we keep looking?" Many were disappointed. But it was something much better than they imagined. Some were expecting condemnation but they got grace. Some were expecting judgment to be rained down on their enemies but got the surprise of their lives when the doors to the kingdom were opened to everyone. Some were living in darkness but became filled with the gift of light and life. It wasn't what they were expecting. It was something much better, a gift within a gift.