The gift we never expected

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”

The coming of Christmas is a season filled with anticipation. Often before the annual Thanksgiving meal has come and gone, we begin thinking about all that must be done in the coming weeks. We make lists and search for just the right gifts for our family, friends, and other special people we want to remember at this joyous time of year. Beautifully wrapped packages begin to appear beneath our Christmas trees adorned with twinkling lights and glimmering ornaments, seeming to cheer It’s time! It’s time! Christmas is here!

Long ago, as all of creation anticipated the first Christmas, God was getting ready to change the world through one very special gift, a gift he had planned from the very beginning:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1,14 NIV

Just as the first wrapped gift beneath the Christmas tree heralds the arrival of a new season, so the birth of Jesus, our Savior, on Christmas Day was the first word that God’s hope and salvation and redemption plan had come into the world.

The story of Christmas begins long before Jesus’ birth—even before God breathed the first breath into Adam’s dusty body. From the very beginning, God had a plan for redemption. The apostle Paul declared,

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. . . . For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:15, 19-20 NIV

From the beginning, the Bible tells of a love story between God and his people. As the story works its way through the Old Testament into the New Testament, it is a story with many ups and downs and twists and turns, but the ending is always clear—redemption is God’s plan, and he will stop at nothing to fulfill that plan and rescue his people.

And so God sent Jesus. God actually gift-wrapped himself in all his fullness, in human flesh, and was born in a dusty stable so he could come and live among us and offer us life and salvation that we could never gain on our own.

Jesus is God under wraps.

Why Advent?

The season of Advent—the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day—is a special time for believers because it challenges us to pause and remember the hope we have during a stressful season that all too often emphasizes greed and money. Advent allows us the time and space to refocus our hearts and minds on Jesus—the true hope of the season.

The observation of Advent is a gift—a time to reflect, meditate, and pray, asking God to do a great work in our hearts as we remember anew the great gift that has been given to us through his Son. We observe Advent because God expects something amazing to happen in our lives at Christmas.

The theme of Under Wraps reflects how the character of God, communicated through the Old Testament, is revealed completely and perfectly in Jesus. Together we will see specifically how four characteristics of God—

God is expectant;
God is dangerous;
God is jealous;
God is faithful

—are described in the Old Testament and then revealed through Jesus and the time he spent here on earth.

Jesus—God under wraps—took on human flesh and came to live among us to show us who God is and what he is like. And he came on a mission—to rescue us and redeem us so that we could fully know God and be known by him.

...Embrace this season of Advent expectantly, grabbing hold of the hope that is come—because God expects Christmas to change you. That is why he sent a Savior, born to change the world. That is why he gave us the gift of himself, wrapped up in Jesus Christ.

excerpted from: Under Wraps: The Gift We Never Expected by Jessica LaGrone, Rob Renfroe, Andy Nixon, and Ed Robb Copyright © 2014 by Abingdon Press. Used with permission.

Each week we will explore one of these four characteristics of God, shown first through the Old Testament and then revealed clearly through Jesus. Each chapter contains questions for reflection, Scriptures for meditation, and a prayer intended to assist you in reflecting on what God is doing in your heart during this season.

Whether you read these chapters on your own or as part of the Under Wraps group study, may this exploration of “God under wraps” enrich and prepare you spiritually as you move through the Advent season and anticipate the birth of Christ our Savior.

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