I love Christmas, it’s a truly magical time of year. I think it’s that feeling of excitement that builds and builds as we head through December. I know many people get fed up with all the rushing around and the hustle and bustle of the season – but that’s not Christmas – that’s the commercial pressure that is put on us! The true excitement and joy of Christmas is in the greatest gift ever given. We have every right to be excited about that, after all who doesn’t look forward to receiving a special gift!

I’ve had the immense privilege of being present at the birth of our four children, what an experience! Fear, anxiety, suspense, excitement, joy! All rolled into one. And eventually when I held each of them for the first time, I can’t explain the feelings that welled up inside. Holding a brand new human being as s/he takes their first few breaths and opens their eyes upon the world for the first time! There are no words for those first special moments, the body however, has its own way of responding, tears rolled down my cheeks, and the tears said it all!

And this Christmas, I’m sure tears will once again roll down my cheeks. On Boxing day, it will be exactly 12 months since I lost my father. His death, alongside the birth of my children, is one of those moments that has had the greatest impact on my life. I miss him every single day.

Christmas is a time for so many that is wrapped up with all kinds of emotion. As I reflected on this fact I became more aware of just how appropriate that is!

Let me take you the Bethlehem, just over 2000 years ago. There in a dirty, cold and smelly animal shed, Mary, with her husband Joseph, to support her, gave birth to her first born. I’m sure like me, as they held this little one and looked down at his tiny fingers and those delicate little finger nails, so tiny yet so perfect, tears of joy rolled down their cheeks.

Their tears though would also be tears of sorrow, you see this tiny baby, the greatest gift the world would receive, was the only baby that was born with one purpose – to die! Gods perfect plan of salvation, wrapped up in swaddling cloths. Thirty years later, Mary would be wrapping the body of her son in burial cloths.

Wrapping – now there’s another link with Christmas! When we wrap up a gift, it covers everything doesn’t it? It’s all encompassing. And so as we think about that most special of Christmas gifts, may you allow him to wrap his love around you, and may you know with certainty that his presence is with us in all things, through every emotion and situation life my throw at us, IMMANUEL – God is with is – ALWAYS! His love is all encompassing!

But this year, may we all go further still by taking off the wrapping paper, the outer shell that so often hides the real person on the inside. And may we take hold of the gift that was given to us. A gift that, unlike other gifts will not wear out and fade, a gift that is the same yesterday, today and forever, the Alpha and Omega. And may we, like the shepherds and the wise men, look upon the king of kings in awe and wonder and allow the joy of his birth to permeate every fibre of our being.

Joy to the world- the Lord is come!

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