Christmas: Super Presents

Blog / Produced by The High Calling

When I was ten years old, I rested all my hopes on receiving a Spalding Super Anzac tennis racket for Christmas. It had a slit down the throat between head and handle, which allowed the racket to whip through the air, both powerfully and deftly. I dreamed of holding it aloft in celebration after devastating victories. A Spalding Super Anzac! I would become a tennis legend!

On Christmas morning, after the last Christmas paper had been shredded, I still had not received a Super Anzac. I tried to maintain my composure, but soon all I could do was cry out, "But I wanted a tennis racket!"

"Well, look behind the round couch," my parents said.

There, bewitchingly concealed, was a tall box with SPALDING clearly marked on the side. I flew to it and tore the cardboard apart. Inside lay my old beat-up tennis racket. This was character building in absolutely its worst form, I feared.

Before I dissolved not-so-quietly into tears, my parents made a huge to-do out of retrieving and presenting a second long-handled package in fancy paper. This one held the Super Anzac! As I gazed at this most-prized possession, I couldn't utter a sound. I was flooded with relief, astonishment, delight, and perhaps even gratitude.

But I began learning a lesson that day. With loving parents, short-lived gloom turns into long-term grace. "So how much more will our Father in Heaven give good gifts . . ." (Mark 7:11).

The great gift of Christmas for all of us, adults and children alike, is Christ himself. He alone is worthy of the expectations and hopes children invest in toys. Still, it's good for kids to become taken up with the splendor and glory of a prized gift, because such hope can one day be directed toward Christ himself. Even as adults, though, none of our toys will save us. But Christ can and does.

Yet even the salvation of Christ can seem a disappointment—a let down. If we only regard the Christ-child as a future savior, we find that Christmas makes little difference in our day-to-day lives. It's just the old tennis racket done-up in a different box.

My Christian life changes utterly, though, the more I realize everyday that Good Friday and Easter are inherent in Christmas. For once Christ comes, his victory—and ours—is assured. In the same way, Christ's resurrection power is available to us not only as immortal destiny but right here and right now as the transforming power of our daily lives. The Apostle Paul writes, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20).

When we receive Christmas's ultimate present, Christ dwelling within us and living through us, everything does change utterly, and we discover that all of our childish hopes and fears are more than embraced—they are raised into the Godhead in Christ our Lord!

Merry Christmas every day to you!

Photograph "three red hats" by L. L. Barkat, used with permission.