Editor's note: "An uncommon Advent: the arrival of a Savior in our lives" is a sampling of biblical meditations composed by members of the Concordia University Wisconsin community. It is our prayer that you will take time during the Advent season to read and reflect upon God's Word and await the coming of Jesus with newfound anticipation and zeal through the Holy Spirit.
December 8 – Focusing on the perfect gift
Isaiah 24:14-25:12, Obadiah 1-21, 1 John 2:15-29
It was Christmas, I was nine years old, and under the tree was the greatest gift ever! The colorfully wrapped box with a beautiful bow had been tucked behind the other presents. It was the train set I had asked for repeatedly. My parents spent hours researching and had saved, sacrificed, and planned to give me the train of my dreams. I was as thrilled to receive it as they were to give it. As a parent decades later, I find myself as excited to fulfill my children’s dreams. I’m more interested in watching their joy as they unwrap their gifts than I am concerned about what the depths of the tree hold for me.
Throughout the Advent season, much attention is given to gifts we will both receive and give. Yet in true reflection of Advent, we should consider I John 2:15-17, which instructs Christians not to love the things of this world, as they are temporal and keep us from loving our Father, and rather to refocus.
The train set seemed the perfect gift – one that filled me with excitement as a child and now fills me with appreciation for my parents —but it is not the greatest gift that has ever been given to me. When I am tempted to focus on that worldly joy of gifts for my children, I need to refocus on the real reason for the season, and through the Holy Spirit, Concordia keeps that in focus daily. Our true joy came wrapped in humble cloths, without a bow in sight, just pure and innocent perfection sent to us from our heavenly Father.
Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is the birthday of all birthdays, and if this was not enough, His gift extends more than thirty years later. This second gift was not under a tree but on one, and that divine gift of redemption includes a guarantee far beyond this lifetime. Our God delights in giving this perfect gift to us, His children.
Advent is truly a time of celebration. The Church is alive with joy, celebrating the greatest of all births. The exchange of gifts can be a great way to share love with others, but those gifts must never be our primary focus. Trains and Xbox’s will go away, disregarded like all other worldly items, yet the gift of Christ is ours forever.
-Steve Taylor is the Vice President of Student Life and has served on the staff of Concordia University Wisconsin since 1999. View a full schedule of “An uncommon Advent” readings here.
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