Open the Gift - by Lisa Lohnes
What kind of gift opener are you? Are you a just let me at it person who vigorously rips and tears the wrapping? Or maybe you are one of those who simply savours the moment and carefully removes each individual piece of tape in an effort to save the paper? Most of us probably fall somewhere in between but know someone who is either hasty or leisurely in their gift opening.
Regardless of how we approach it, we anticipate opening our gifts. Sometimes the suspense of what’s inside is almost unbearable. Even if the gift is an elegantly wrapped package of brightly coloured paper with curly ribbons flowing over its edges, our curiosity usually gets the best of us. I remember reading a true story about a woman who received a gift from her husband which was so beautifully wrapped she couldn’t bear to ruin it. So she didn’t. Instead, she put the present on a shelf where she could daily admire its splendor. It stayed there for years. I’ve often wondered if her husband’s next gift came in a brown paper bag. After all, the gift is on the inside, beneath the wrapping.
Simeon was a man fully anticipating a gift. He walked closely with God, praying for the hope of Israel. The Holy Spirit had assured him he would not die before seeing the Messiah. As he encountered Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus in the temple courts, he took the child in his arms and praised God:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32 NIV)
Simeon did not stop to admire the physical features of the baby; that was simply the wrapping. He went straight to the gift: God himself coming as salvation, for Israel and for the whole world.
During this season as we celebrate the greatest gift ever given, we need to look beyond the cute baby in a manger. Let us not place our gift on a shelf to admire but open it up to see the gift of salvation that has come for a broken world. Then we can share this opened gift with the world so that they too will see what is beyond the wrapping.