Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
II Corinthians 9:15
Christmas Eve has finally come! On this long awaited day I am thinking of loved ones, a candle lighting service, some caloric goodies, friends to call, and gifts still in need of wrapping. The pine fragrance of the Christmas tree and the sound of carols stir memories of Christmases past, my parents, and some favorite gifts. There were, of course, the bicycle, first baseball glove, and Lionel Train. I felt sorry for grownups who never received toys and couldn’t run around and play. Then came even greater joy in watching my children’s delight in opening their Christmas presents. Today I am happy in feeling thankful, remembering, and looking forward to FaceTime with grandchildren. Christmas brings many surprising and wonderful gifts.
But today’s Scripture tells of a gift more wonderful than any gift ever hoped for. Yes, there are gifts that are fabulous, fantastic, and just what someone always wanted; but there is only one gift that is “indescribable”. There just aren’t words to describe it! Although writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul still struggles to find words to describe the greatness of this gift. Paul knows there is far more wrapped up in this gift than he or anyone can ever say. The Living Bible calls this gift “too wonderful for words”, and The Message says “no language can praise it enough”. There is vastness in Paul’s word “indescribable”. There is transcendence about it. It is a gift going far above and beyond what we can imagine. Words fail us here because thoughts fail us here. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived”, Paul writes elsewhere (I Corinthians 2:9).
Such is God’s gift for us in Jesus Christ! How does one begin to describe Him! He is God who comes down to us as a baby without ceasing to be God. He is the Creator becoming a creature to become one of us and one with us. He bends low making Himself a helpless, vulnerable baby to unite Himself forever to us, bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh. “He came in such a way to enter into our guilty human life and to heal us from within.” (Thomas Torrance, When Christ Comes and Comes Again) He is on our side. The Son of God becomes the Son of Man to make us His sons and daughters.
Paul writes elsewhere about God’s “too wonderful for words” Baby, that “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells in bodily form, and you have come to fullness in him” (Colossians 2:9-10). In Him we have fullness, richness, the satisfaction of our deepest desires. Later the grown man Jesus will tell the reason for His coming: “I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
This takes us back to where we began our Advent reflections: to receiving. Christmas is about receiving. That’s how Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and wise men heard it. It is about receiving God’s “indescribable gift”. We miss Christmas if we miss this. While we like to think of ourselves as givers on this Christmas Eve, we are receivers, receivers only of God’s bounteous grace. Like parents delight in giving to their children at Christmas so much more the heavenly Father delights in giving us life to the full. “That we are delights God. So the divine giver gives – and delights in our delight as well as in our being.” (Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge) Heaven isn’t for sale. God’s love can never be earned or deserved. The best thing we can do is to simply receive and say “Thank you!”
Yes! “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”
- Think about some ways in which you want to say “thank you” to God for His “indescribable gift”.
- Take some moments to ponder God delighting in you.