One year, not too long ago, my kids were participating in a White Elephant gift exchange at a Christmas party. We ended up wrapping a very tiny gift in a small box, and then wrapping that little box in a slightly larger box, and then wrapping that box in an even bigger box, and repeating this process until we had about 5-6 boxes. The final box, which was a good-sized cardboard box by the time we reached the end, was then wrapped up very nicely with pretty, festive paper and a large bow. It looked appealing and interesting; what could be in that big mystery box? There was a sense of anticipation and mystery upon seeing that large, attractively wrapped box. Imagine the fun (and confusion) of the person who chose that box and continued to unwrap, unwrap, and unwrap, and the surprise of finding something very small, when the expectation was to unwrap something quite large!
I think our Christmas season can be a bit like that big wrapped up box.
This is the season when we “wrap up” gifts and presents. We “wrap up” another year and look with hope to the new year on the horizon. We might even be wrapping up over ourselves, our time, our grief, our loneliness, with the busyness of the season.
We could be quite good at covering up the real meaning of Christmas with ornaments, decorations, lights, music, food. We can get easily absorbed into the swirling pool of activities–many of which may be good–but could fill up with so many other things that we can’t see the manger anymore.
“God is having a difficult time getting through to us because we have no time to answer when He calls.” — AW Tozer
I think, though, many of us sincerely desire a slowing down, and an appreciation of “the real”; the unwrapping of ourselves, instead of busying ourselves with “covering up”.
We tend to “cover up” our true selves with our phones that we must now carry everywhere and check constantly. We “cover up” with our nose in a book, or our face to the ground, or look the other way. We desire authenticity, to know and be known, and yet with all the technological tools to keep us “connected” we are probably the loneliest we have ever been as a society. We can post lovely holiday pictures on social media, but no one knows the real story behind the photos we show to the world because those photos are not the real truth.
We are only “connected” superficially. We are not really connected at all; in fact, do we need more evidence to see that we might be the most disconnected ever? Our handy little tools have allowed us to disengage from real conversation and engage in somewhat controlled, fabricated, online communication, where we do not show our faces or eyes, and hide our real selves, and type only what we want others to see.
We are not going to make any progress if we do not unwrap and allow some transparency through. I know that is what I really want. I am sure it must be what others seek as well. It sure isn’t easy. It’s risky. It’s vulnerable.
But God did it first.
God came like that. Vulnerable. Small. Humble. Open. Naked. God ripped the skies and made a star to shine. And then, he ripped up the chasm between heaven and earth when Jesus died.
Jesus came to us, unwrapped. Then God kept unwrapping the way to Himself.
God opened himself, made himself vulnerable, to the point of saying he’d die for us. He said he loved us, lived here on earth with us, then proceeded to die.
What else can we choose to be, then, if not unwrapped and authentic, like Jesus? What other response is there? How are we doing on all of this?
This is the season of unwrapping: unwrapping the layers of the extraneous activities, and even bits of ourselves.
This is the season of unwrapping: unfolding our schedules to allow time and space so we may once again experience the wonder and truly appreciate the reality of that humble, unobtrusive, yet powerful and loving gift: the gift of our Savior.
What will you be unwrapping this season?
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.~ Romans 15:13