“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
December ushers in one of my very favorite seasons. The holidays have elicited wonder in me for as long as I can remember. As lights were hung and holly and evergreens made their way inside our home, the joy flickering in my heart told me that this time of year was special. Christmas simply felt different than the rest of the year.
As a child, I looked forward to its advent with great anticipation. The arrival of Jesus’ birthday marked a season of celebration! I loved the family gatherings that accompanied Christmas, complete with caroling, special foods, and holiday smells.
Nothing held quite as much awe, however, as the sight of the gifts spilling out from under the tree. Extended family gathered in our home for Christmas, and large numbers of people meant a large number of gifts! Packages and ribbons beckoned our exploration, and I joined my brothers to examine the name tags, searching for the owner of each new possession. Joy would ripple through me when I found my name. This one’s for me.
And hope would rise to the surface. Perhaps this is the one I have been waiting for!
Do you remember how it felt to experience Christmas with the heart of a child? Can you recall the sensation of sugarplums dancing in your belly, a delightful mingling of anticipation and hope?
For many of us, much of the wonder of the holidays has been replaced by routine, busyness, and—let’s face it—work! Some no longer even experience the thrill of surprise on Christmas morning, as the gifts bearing their names were purchased and wrapped by their own hands. And Jesus, the One whom we gather to celebrate, is almost forgotten, worked into our festivities with brief mentions and a visit to church on Christmas Eve.
Perhaps we’ve been missing something. Could it be that Christmas still holds something worth anticipating, offering joy, hope, and wonder to more than just children? Have we, as adults, been missing the awe that accompanies the unveiling of the gifts the Christ-child came to bring?
Consider this lesson Jesus taught His disciples during His earthly ministry:
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3
Jesus said that unless we approach Him with the heart of a child, we will miss His kingdom—the eternal kingdom He will establish when He returns, and the blessings of membership in that kingdom lived out on earth until He does. Jesus came to the earth to draw us to Him in divine relationship and reveal the glory of what’s to come. He came so people like you and me could know Him and experience a foretaste of heaven.
Have you tasted it? You are meant to!
What if we approached Jesus this Christmas as the all-surpassing gift Scripture claims He is? What if we opened our hearts to believe like a little child? Let’s invite the wonder and anticipation of Christmas to return! There are gifts bearing your name awaiting your attention under the tree.
We will spend the next four weeks unwrapping the gift God gave us in His Son. Our focus will be the four names given to Jesus in His prophetic birth announcement proclaimed to us in Isaiah 9:6—Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Throughout Scripture, the names of God appear as the people experienced that aspect of His character. These names, appearing in association with Jesus’ birth, tell us that we are now able to experience God in these ways through Jesus. His birth opened the way to a whole new experience of God!
Dear one, the entire season of Christmas we celebrate is a gift given for you. Jesus is the all-surpassing gift that will exceed your expectations when approached with a humble, expectant heart. What’s more, He’s the gift that keeps on giving!
This season, let’s renew our hearts with a fresh revelation of the true gift of Christmas: Jesus. Allow your heart to open with the wonder of an expectant child, approaching each gift He offers with hope and anticipation. Beloved, these gifts are what you’ve been waiting for all your life!