Gifts are an integral part of the celebration of Christmas, but the enthusiasm and spontaneity of children makes gift-giving special. It is a sad thing that as adults, we often lose touch with our feelings in such situations.
Years ago, we attended a church that encouraged children to bring along one of their Christmas presents for show and tell at the Christmas Day service. The sight of happy children was a highlight of the day.
On one particular Christmas Day service, the associate pastor gave an unusual children’s talk about gifts. He showed them an enormous box that had been specially gift-wrapped. Everyone wondered what was in it – including the adults.
“How would you feel if you had a birthday party and everyone got presents except you?” he asked.
“That’s not fair,” said one little girl.
Then he pointed at their presents and said, “Then how come you got presents today? I thought today was supposed to be Jesus’ birthday?”
The children held tightly to their presents, as they looked around at each other, while the associate pastor moved next to the big gift.
“Today, I thought we could give Jesus a special gift, and it’s inside this box.” “Who thinks they can guess what it is?” he asked.
The children gave a variety of suggestions including a pony, some nice clothes and a bike. After a pause, the associate pastor brought out a step ladder, opened the box at the top, and invited the children to look inside.
“When I point to you I want you to climb on the ladder and look in the box. Don’t tell anyone what you see, until we have all looked.”
The children started crawling around to get closer. No one wanted to miss their turn at looking inside.
“Just before you look inside, I must tell you a secret. Whatever you see in the box will be different to what everyone else sees. Are you ready to look?”
“Yes” they all yelled.
One by one the children climbed the ladder, looked inside, and returned to their seat. Some smiled, but a few seemed to be a bit confused by what they saw. One six year old boy said, “I couldn’t see anything.”
Even the senior pastor was asked to take a look.
After everyone had looked inside, the associate pastor asked, “Will we let the mums and dads see what’s inside?”
Again, the children yelled, “Yes.”
Suddenly, a significant increase in movement occurred in the audience as many adults tried to improve their view – without looking too obvious or enthusiastic about it of course.
Then the associate pastor reached in and pulled out something thin and rectangular.
“What does Jesus want as a present from you this Christmas??? He wants YOU”, he shouted, as he held the rectangular object high above his head.
A wave of smiles and laughter spread across the whole congregation as each person suddenly realised that the rectangular object he was holding was a BIG MIRROR.
“I encourage you therefore brethren, out of gratitude for God’s mercy, to present yourselves – the whole of your life and all that you are – as a gift to God, for that is what the Lord wants most from you. Let Him give you your best life – a life that conforms to all that He purposed for you – rather than living your life according to the ways of the world.”
My paraphrase of Romans 12:1,2
To celebrate the fact that God gave us Jesus, please contact me for a free copy of Hippo in the Stable at firstname.lastname@example.org.