Weekly Reflection – The Greatest Gift of All

13 December 2023

When I was growing up, one of my favourite TV shows was Thunderbirds, and one Christmas I – along with millions of other children – desperately wanted a ‘Tracy Island’, a model of the island where Thunderbirds was based. I forget whether it was mum and dad who bought it for me, or Father Christmas, but one of the two provided said island, and it became a really treasured toy.

Over the years, there have been many trends in terms of toys given for Christmas. In my time, other toys have included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Gameboys, Talkboys, Power Rangers, Toy Story figures, Tamagotchis and Furbies. More recently we have seen Xboxes, Wiis, Hatchimals, fidget spinners, and Switches amongst other things. And the stores, no doubt, make a killing on selling their wares to parents, many of whom are keen to provide their children with the best they can.

It might seem cliché to say this, but in the midst of all the secular hype surrounding Christmas in our materialistic culture, it is worth us remembering that the greatest gift of all was something which none of us have ever put on our Christmas list: Jesus Christ. The world was expecting Jesus when he was born – thousands of prophecies, secular and sacred, had been made, and we get a glimpse of them in our Advent readings – but they certainly did not want him, as we know from the Christmas story. First, Mary and Joseph couldn’t find a real room to inhabit in Bethlehem – ‘No room here!’ was each innkeeper’s reply. Then King Herod tried to enlist the help of exotic strangers to locate the babe in order to have him killed. And whilst Herod’s wicked trap didn’t succeed, eventually, of course, they did ‘get him’, and when they did, they nailed him to a tree.

As Christians, we believe we have been given the greatest gift of all, the gift of Jesus Christ, whom God sent to us, who was born as one of us, who died for each of us, and who lives now that we might live. But is he a gift we want? Just how important is he on our Christmas lists today? Does he feature at all? If so, is he the top priority, the one to be desired, like my Tracy Island was, or does Jesus feature a little lower down after other things? And where should he be?

When we are given a gift, we feel guilty if we don’t give something back, but really what we should do, is pass something on. As Christians, we know that we have been given the greatest gift of all, the gift of Jesus Christ, God’s own Son. We are not required to give anything back to God in return – we can’t, God is complete in himself – but what we can do is pass on that gift. So this Christmas, why not give someone you know the gift of Jesus? Tell them about him. Invite them to worship. This year, pass on the greatest gift of all.

Best wishes,
Father Christopher

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Wakefield Cathedral

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