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The Fourth Day of Advent – December 6

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us…
Isaiah 9:6a

“Tis the Season for Giving” is something you will hear a lot these days. What I enjoy about gift giving does not have so much to do with the money as what I want the gift to say. I hope for the gift to express something from the giver to the receiver. For instance, there are times I want the gift to meet someone’s needs, and to say, “I know what you need, even if you didn’t know that you needed it.” I like for a gift to tell someone they are special to me: “I really appreciate and care about you.” I want a gift to bring joy to someone, saying, “I enjoy seeing joy in you.” Sometimes I want a gift that says it comes with some personal cost or sacrifice: “I love you so much!”

I ponder the meaning of gifts in today’s scripture about “a son given to us.” I think of all that God is saying to you and me in giving us His only begotten Son: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And, “We know love by this, that He laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16).

Isaiah is very precise and exact in his words: “a child has been born for us, a son given to us.” Note that it is not a son born for us and a child given, but a child born and son given. It is Jesus in His humanity “born for us”, and the Son of God in His divinity “given to us.” The Nicene Creed follows this in affirming of Jesus: “He came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate in the Virgin Mary, and became man.” It is not just that God became “a man”, but that He became “man”, thus taking to Himself the whole human race. In God’s boundless wisdom and love He took the fullness of our humanity without letting go of His deity or shying away from our humanness. Jesus is God experiencing our humanity.

Read the Gospel of Luke’s genealogy of Jesus and see that He was born to a long list of sinners, so that He might make our sin His sin, and heal our brokenness and shame. God accomplished this by “sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:4). At just the right moment in Adam’s family history, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children” (Galatians 4:4).

God became a child to make us His children. He plummeted the depths of our darkness so that He might save us by the light. God so loved the world that He gave His Son to the world to bring the world back to Himself (1 Corinthians 15:58). “As if to shame the most powerful human efforts and achievements, a child is placed in the center of world history. A child born of humans, a son given by God. This is the mystery of the redemption of the world.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Mystery of Holy Night)

This is the mystery of what God wants His Christmas gift to say!


O God, our Creator and Redeemer given for us, we want to slow down the rush of Advent and listen for You. We want to keep step with You amidst the busyness. Help us not to go along with the world to get along. We do not want to knuckle under the culture. As we bear the name of Jesus, point others to His saving light. To You, from whom angels hide their faces, we pray. Amen.

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