By now all the gifts have been opened. Did you get what you wanted? What about what you needed? Did you get anything to improve your life—maybe some exercise equipment, possibly some of those DVDs so you can learn a new language, or even the gift of some woodworking classes so you can build a farm table for your kitchen and feel all fixer-uppity?
We Christians would be wise not to be so heavenly minded that we look down our spiritual noses at earthly gifts. They usually come from someone who cares about us, and many of those gifts bring us happiness, or dare I say, joy. But we know they all have a shelf-life—they’ll break, loose a screw or two, and eventually wear out. Like the bread in the wilderness.
Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
The texts for today speak of the One who cares for us beyond even the strongest earthly bonds. And the gift offered by this One is eternal, although that word seems strange to our ears; it is just not one we routinely use in our disposable world. Maybe the old word—everlasting—rings truer, finds some purchase in our minds so accustomed to things that do not last. Jesus stands and reigns in stark contrast to the wilderness manna.
This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die.
We Christians would be wise not to be so earthly preoccupied that we lose sight of heaven’s gift, which gives meaning to all the others and allows us to enjoy them as God intended. That is what this time of year is all about: celebrating the gift from which all others flow.
When the love of Jesus Christ the Lord animates our lives, we can trim our waistlines, but know that godliness is the greater gain. We can become fluent in Spanish, but know if we have not love, we’re like a clanging cymbal. We can fix our homes all up and then some, but know that if our life is hidden with Christ in God, then we have something that will not fade, that rust and moth cannot destroy, that thieves cannot break in and steal. We have the gift eternal. We have life everlasting.
As a poet once said, “He is Christmas in the wilderness.”
Written by John Blase