“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9–10 ESV)
This morning we celebrated Christmas together as a family. Since we will celebrate Christmas with Lauren’s family this weekend, we decided we wanted to have our own special family Christmas together at our house. With the overwhelming donation of presents sent by my parents a few weeks earlier, our tree actually looked legitimate and our present-opening lasted longer than 30 seconds.
I like to get up before everyone in our house. It’s the perfect time for me to read, write, exercise (very occassionally), and just enjoy the calm quiet before beginning a busy day. This morning was special. I got to experience the other side of Christmas. Up until this year, my Christmas has always been to wake up and let Christmas happen to me. If I’m at my parents house, that would mean us waking up and all piling into my parents bed as we wait for them to set up the stockings and finish the Christmas quiche and sweet rolls. At Lauren’s it means rolling out of bed late, and coming down for presents with coffee.
But this morning, I couldn’t just let Christmas happen to me. As a first time dad at Christmas, it was finally my job to make Christmas happen for the rest of my family. All these years of wondering what my parents really did while I waited anxiously in their room for them to invite us out to see the hordes of presents under the tree, I now know. After getting up around 5:30, I spent some time wrapping last minute gifts, reading, praising God for his great gift, running to Home Depot for some last minute tools needed to set up Christmas presents, cleaning up a bit of the house so we could enjoy siting on the ground opening presents. As weird as it was for me, but Christmas as a parent was so much better than Christmas as a kid. Knowing the delight Kyler was going to have by all the gifts, the special traditions that would develop over the years, the joy of having a family that loved spending the day together, was a better gift than I received as a kid growing up.
While reading in the calm, quiet hours, while the rest of my family slept, I came across the above verse in 1 John. Although I had read the verse before, the Christmas sentiments surrounding me made it stand out in a way I hadn’t experienced before. The greatness of God’s love, the very thing that makes his love so rich, is not the feeling that happens by receiving it, but the delight the father has in giving it. The day Christ was born, God’s love was born as well. Life and breath and hope was manifest in the first cry of an obscure baby who would later die an obscure death as a criminal of the state.
While reading it I was overwhelmed. Christmas as a parent was so much more rewarding because I got to experience love at its core. I was now the giver, the initiator, and in that I took far greater delight.
Praise God for the initiating love that was manifest in the gift of God’s son. And praise God that this morning, I got even just a little peek into the great delight our Heavenly Father had in giving the gift of love and life to his estranged creation!