On the first day of Christmas… I have never been that sure what use a partridge in a pear tree is. They seem like a very strange pairing. A partridge in gravy I can understand but a partridge and a pear tree seems to me like an odd coupling. I guess the ‘true love’ in the carol new the songwriter better than I do and their unspoken love for wildfowl and orcharding had caught their attention. The lover knew best what the beloved needed.
That is so often the way with gifts. I have received gifts from grandparents and friends and at first glance I have been bewildered by what possessed them to buy me such a token of affection. Yet in time, as curiosity rose, the very thing I had initially shunned became a favourite. I found life in their gift that I had previously not experienced. The grandparent knew best what the grandchild needed.
On the very first day of Christmas this was more the case than ever. Centuries had passed since the first hint of a rescuer. The world had seen war upon war. Famine upon famine. Humanity, as often is its wont, had subjected itself to countless horrors. The people of God had heard prophecies of the rescuer. The one who would restore righteousness, peace and freedom to Israel. Long had they looked to the heavens and prayed for the rescuer to come and at the turning of history the Messiah couldn’t come quick enough.
The people were under oppression, the strength of Rome had crushed all in its path and the Promised Land was no longer in the hands of those to whom it was promised. They were resident but they were far from at home. The fervour of the prayers for the rescuer to come; for the anointed, sent one to arrive were at a peak. He was needed more than ever.
And then He came. Leaving the glories of Heaven for the broken shores of Earth, He came.
The long awaited gift arrives, wrapped in frail humanity. A baby born in squalor to a mother plagued by rumours of infidelity that still raise their head 2000 years later and a father learning to to raise a son that was not his own. Don’t be fooled by the nativity play and the Christmas carols, the moment the promise arrived in Bethlehem was stunning not for its beauty but for its gritty humanity. The gift given was frail and in danger. Hounded by rumour and born in filth the arriving rescuer looked in need of rescue Himself.
Every Christmas I fall for my own self aggrandising pride and convince myself that it was all very obvious what was going on. I convince myself that I would have known that the baby in a trough was the King from Heaven’s throne but I am deluded. It is no surprise to me that those around could have missed Him. It is no surprise that once grown and beginning His ministry He was questioned by His hearers. I would have hearkened back to His confusing birth story. I would have remembered HIs childhood and missed the Glory and divinity woven amongst the beautiful human mundanity of The Christ.
The gift of God did not look like a gift but as He grew His value grew clear. This child born in obscurity would take centre stage in the story of the world. The gift came wrapped badly and without glamour yet the creator knew best what the creation needed.
This Christmas as you are surrounded with paper, boxes, searches for missing batteries and more food than you require be sure not to miss His gift. Look at the fabric of your life. Where are the threads that look out of place or insignificant that actually are the work of your loving Father bringing blessing to you that perhaps you don’t even know you need? Who are the people in your life that you are not paying attention to yet are sent by God to bring the answers to the prayers you are praying?
Father, Thank you for the rescue you sent in your Son. Thank you for giving us eyes to see your wonder in His mundanity and Your strength in His divinity. Open our eyes this Christmas to the blessings you have poured out around us. Give us ears to hear your voice. Thank you that you know us better than we even know ourselves and give gifts that we need before we even ask for them. You are such a gracious God. Amen