My family opened some of our gifts last Saturday before my brother left to spend Christmas day with his girlfriend’s family. Mainly we opened gifts from my brother (and he opened his gifts from us), but my family insisted that I open one of my gifts. Mom has been talking about this particular gift for a while. Yet, I could not figure out what it was. I knew a family friend had worked on it and that it was not something I had specifically asked for. So, the mystery gift finally appeared and I opened it.
Inside the box was a beautifully restored 1926 typewriter. I was in shock. There are photos proving this fact. It was one of those gifts that I’d wanted, but never thought was practical enough to ask for. I think those are the best gifts. The gifts where someone knows you so well, that they can improvise with their giving. This year I have leaned into my writing and have been learning the discipline of continuing to write (even when I do not want to). And a typewriter so perfectly symbolizes this journey for me. Plus, it’s really a beautiful old machine.
This morning, as I was slowly waking up on my first day of Christmas vacation, I thought of the joy of these surprise gifts. The older I get, the less I receive gifts that surprise me. I guess that’s to be expected as one gets older. That is what made this gift in particular so delightful. I felt so known and seen. And known and seen beyond what could be expressed in a Christmas list.
This got me to thinking about the gift of Christmas – Jesus. Israel had waitied and hoped for hundreds of years for the Messiah to come. On Israel’s gift list was a powerful warlord, who would overthrow the Roman government. Instead, they were given a baby born in the humblest of circumstances. A baby who would grow up to be a humble servant, washing the feet of his disciples. A man who dined with the messiest of messy souls, while shocking the religious establishment. A man who did not fight when betrayed by his friend, giving himself up freely to death on the cross. Jesus was not the gift we asked for, but rather was the gift we needed. The gift we still need today. He didn’t come to strut across the shoulders of those he defeated in battle, but rather came to be with us and to save us.
I’m reminded of Jesus’ words to his disciples, from John 16:33 (NIV):
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
He has overcome the world. Not by military might, but by sacrificial love. And we can hope in that today.