C.C. stocking stories #133

Today I unpacked my childhood Christmas stocking. I know it is mine because it has my name on it. It is a hand knitted, one of a kind, made by my mom, Christmas stocking. Actually, she made nine of them, including mine. One for each of my sisters and one for each of my six cousins. They are all identical in pattern, the only difference being the name knitted into each one. Well, actually there is one other very critical and readily apparent difference to discern, if all nine stockings could be viewed side by side. It is this. size My stocking is significantly smaller than the others, which seemed to grow bigger as the years went by.

I am the oldest of the nine of us. My stocking must have served as the test case, as it were because the stocking of my youngest cousin is huge by comparison. Now, I would go so far as to say this is not fair. But I am no longer a child and I am over it. Can you tell? Was that convincing enough for you, dear readers?

But the lesson of the Christmas stocking doesn’t depend on its size, it is something else entirely. We hang them up empty on Christmas Eve trusting that Santa Clause will find them and fill them with good things. Although there was always the ever present possibility that if I had not been good enough there would be a lump of coal or switches in my stocking, instead of treats and gifts. (this was standard Christmas lore at the time anyway) So my sisters and I were sure to be on our best behavior for the month of December every year. (although I have to confess – this incentive/threat really wasn’t very effective the other eleven months of the year)

Advent preparations involve preparing to receive Christ but also seem to involve preparing to receive all manner of unexpected gifts and surprises. We prepare to receive people into our home and maybe into our lives that have been heretofore overlooked or excluded. We make time and room for special foods and music and gifts that are not present with us the rest of the year. That’s why we hang up empty Christmas stockings, we have made room for the new gifts that we expect will fill them. We have cleaned house to make room for the new gifts of Christmas.

Now with Santa I am taking a bit of a chance. I am assuming these gifts will be good gifts, but those stories of coal and switches still loom in the recesses of my mind. The gifts of Christmas from my Heavenly Father are always good, however. James 1:17 tells me this saying –

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadow.”

Santa would seem to be the quintessential giver of gifts but these words of Jesus in Matthew 7:9-11 give a different perspective on the subject saying –

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”

Yes, God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Whatever my wishes and longings are this Advent season, I can rest assured that this promise is true –

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Jesus Christ, God’s Christmas gift to me and to you, brings with Him all the other gifts my Heavenly Father wants to give me. The question is, will I be ready to receive them? Is my stocking hanging empty, ready and waiting to be filled with His good gifts? All God’s good gifts are found in the person of His Son, Jesus. Colossians 2:2-3 says this about Christ –

” . . . that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Jesus’s appearance and presence here on earth brought so many gifts to us. He brought light into our darkness, hope into our despair, healing into our illness, comfort into our grief, forgiveness into our overwhelming debt of guilt, peace into our strife, an offer of life everlasting to replace our sentence of death, and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge plus joy unspeakable in His Presence!

The gifts of Advent are many and they are all good. I think they are more than my childhood Christmas stocking could ever contain. I surely can say along with David on this day in the season of Advent, as I prepare my home, my heart and my gifts for the coming of my King –

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:5-6)

Jesus has come! Jesus is coming again!

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord, for He comes, He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His truth.” (Psalm 96:11-13)

sincerely, Grace Day

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