The Most Peculiar Gift

It was Christmas morning and my godparents’ living room was filled to capacity with kids, a sea of crumpled up wrapping paper, and sparkling new toys. I was a contemplative teenager with nothing left to open (it didn’t take long to open gift card envelopes); so I sat back and, for the first time, beheld the joy that spreads across children’s faces as they unwrap presents. The view was breathtaking.

Shortly thereafter I received another gift that was, by most standards, peculiar: a pair of black leg warmers. That was many years ago, but I still cherish that memory (and those legwarmers from my Grams). As odd as it may have been to gift legwarmers, they were precisely what I needed to save my shins from the stress of rigorous dancing. And it told me that my Grams knew me and what I needed and cared enough to provide it.

Hopefully it’s not too much of a stretch to see why her gift reminds me of another peculiar gift, that of a babe in a manger. Michael Nortons writes that “God surprises us” through the Incarnation, “and his name is Jesus.” Kenneth Samples adds, “It is unique to Christianity to discover a God who takes the initiative in becoming flesh in order to redeem sinful human beings.”

It’s this entirely unexpected but much-needed gift that we celebrate each Christmas and every day. That God knows us and what we need (redemption) and cared enough to provide it by coming in the flesh and completing his work on the cross.

This Christmas, may you experience—and share—the joy from the unexpected gift of Jesus.



Two People I Want to Meet in Heaven

When I think of important biblical figures—outside of Jesus—my mind is often drawn to leaders like King David or Queen Esther or the Apostle Paul. These people accomplished great things and some of them even held royal positions. But if you were to ask me who would be first on my list for a heavenly latte and chat, I’d have to say Mary and Joseph.

They were a pair of poor nobodies, living in inconsequential Nazareth. Yet they played pivotal roles in God’s plan of redemption. Their willingness to humbly serve the Lord’s purpose had a lasting impact on the world and also says a lot about their character.

Joseph doesn’t have any “lines” in Scripture, but his obedience astounds me. Every time an angel appears and commands Joseph to do something, he does it. Would I trust God enough to be so faithful?

Mary took a huge risk in accepting God’s calling. Who would believe her that an angel told her she would be the Messiah’s mother? She was also present at Jesus’ crucifixion and watched her boy die a horrific death. Can you imagine her heartbreak?

Throughout her experiences, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” This contemplativeness is my favorite thing about Mary. In the midst of the hectic schedules, let’s do a little treasuring up of our own and take a quiet moment to ponder God’s great generosity in sending that little baby to Mary and Joseph.

— Maureen