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Advent Day 18: The Best Christmas List

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. ~Colossians 2:6-10

We’re down to the last week of Christmas shopping. The lists are being made, and slowly checked off as gifts accumulate under the Christmas tree. Chances are your Wednesday consists of some sort of Christmas errand as you work through your own Christmas list.

Making a Christmas list was always a major part of my pre-Christmas agenda. Both a getting list (which began in September as my birthday presents became old) and a giving list. My brothers and I would spend hours on these lists, some of them (I won’t mention whose) turning into an excel spread sheet giving exact details on the items they hoped to find under the Christmas tree.

It’s hard to not get wrapped up in the obsession of gifts during Christmas, especially as a child. And even as I’ve grown and (hopefully) matured since a starry-eyed kid sneaking behind the Christmas tree to shake and feel each present with my name on it, I still eagerly anticipate the tradition of the gift-exchange. Not because of the loot I am excited about carrying to my room after the presents are opened, but because I deeply appreciate the opportunity to be intentional about thinking about the treasured people in my life and finding something that they will (maybe) treasure.

The first Christmas present was in the works for thousands of years. As a loving father, God spent years plotting and planning the perfect gift for His broken children. He waited through cycles of rebellion and obedience, He waited through wanderings of His children and He waited through their due consequences. He waited with eagerness to at last place the greatest gift on Earth for His children to at last have what they were waiting for. In fatherly tenderness He carefully crafted the gift of Jesus, and watched with joy as they ran to receive His gift.

Our greatest joy this Christmas will not be in the presents under the tree. We all know that, as grown ups we know its not about what we give – and not even about what gifts we find for others. But do we know where the greatest joy actually is found? Do we take time to acknowledge the gift of Christ, and all the other presents our Heavenly has lavished upon us?

As you make your list and check it twice this Christmas, maybe it’ll help to add a third component to your list. There will the gifts you would like to receive, and the gifts you are going to give. But don’t miss the list of gifts already received. The gifts of grace and mercy and love given to you from God. Go ahead, write them down. Acknowledge them, give thanks for them.

You thought we had this holiday last month? That day in November was already set aside to give thanks, right? But the reality is, your joy is only as great as your gratitude. So don’t let the joy of Christmas be stolen by neglecting to give thanks. So today, before the lists of Christmas shopping, errands, and wrapping to be done gets too high, how about taking a moment to sit down, find a pencil and paper and write the best Christmas list: the list of your gifts from God.

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