Last week in our household we celebrated the 8th birthday of our first child. This prompted a flood of memories from the first day when she was born and the joy that she brought into our lives.
One of the things I remember most about that day is that we’d decided that we would only allow family to visit on that first day, but my best friend was desperate to come and visit and meet our new daughter.
I can’t remember whether I eventually gave him permission or if he just turned up anyway, but to make sure he was welcome at this deeply personal family event he brought a gift – a box of expensive chocolates. For some reason he thought that the chocolates would move him from ‘friend’ (albeit best friend) to ‘family’, or maybe he thought that the chocolates would distract us from the fact that he wasn’t really supposed to be there.
When he arrived, for us the gift wasn’t the chocolates at all; it was him. We had rightly decided that it should be just family, but in doing so we hadn’t realised just how happy we would be to share that incredibly special day with him. When he arrived we realised this and thankfully, because he came, we were able to experience that joy.
This is what it’s like with God and us.
That first Christmas day when Joseph and especially Mary would have been overjoyed at Jesus’ birth, it probably wasn’t on their mind that the angels would spread the news and then some random shepherds would turn up. But they did and it says that Mary ‘treasured’ that they came (Luke 2:19).
There is something intrinsic in Mary’s and our experience that tells us that the gift of a baby is in itself God’s message to us that He has come so that we might all share in His joy, and share each other’s joy.
The story in Luke doesn’t mention any specific gift from the shepherds, yet Mary treasured their gift; the gift of themselves coming to share in Mary’s and Joseph’s joy.
I can’t even remember what happened to the chocolates, I’m sure they were very good, but I vividly remember the joy of my best friend holding and loving my first child.
What a profound and precious gift!
This advent may you know that Jesus has come so you might share in His joy.
May you know that His birth is itself a gift to you and all you have to do is receive it.
May you know that your gift to Him is you, and that you would come and see and choose to share in the joy of His birth.