I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever.
- Psalm 89:1a

Advent is a preparation for Christmas, which is a time of celebration and rejoicing. We celebrate the birth of Jesus by singing joyful songs, eating delicious food, and enjoying the company of our friends and family. It can be easy to forget that Jesus was sent by God not as an excuse to celebrate, but as a gift of love.

Think of the gifts that you have received on previous Christmases. Which ones are most memorable? Perhaps it was something unexpected, and the surprise of receiving made a lasting memory. Or maybe it was a handmade gift, created with love and care. Or is your favorite present something that was just perfect, that you never would have known to ask for, but once received, cherished for years.

All of these can be true of God’s gift of Jesus. Born in a lowly manger to an unremarkable young woman and her carpenter husband, could there be a more unexpected place for the king of all heaven and earth to be born? Yet it is in coming as a humble, unassuming mortal that Christ prepares to sacrifice for our sins.

Christ came with love and care for all. He did not meet with kings and rulers, but with the poor, the shunned, the sinners. He taught lessons in kindness, faith, devotion, and charity that still guide us to good and meaningful lives. His life was made as a gift for all of the world, given freely with love.

It is something that we could never ask for, that another would give up their life so that we may live. Yet Christ did that and more, for his sacrifice gave us not a mortal life, but an eternal life in heaven with God. This was beyond the unaskable, and was instead the unthinkable.

This great gift, coming to live and die a mortal life so that we may be given a divine life in heaven, was given out of love. As it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal.”

And so we rejoice this week, singing our praises to God’s gift of steadfast love.
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