The gift was big and heavy. It rattled and clanked, but I had no clue what was inside the box. I waited my turn, then made quick work of the wrapping paper to uncover a brand new REI camping tent. It was the deluxe kind with two sleeping rooms, aluminum poles, a tall frame even I could stand in, and a “garage” attachment for extra storage.
Our first tent was nearly a decade old. It had been fine during those early years of marriage, but as our family grew, so did our need for a bigger tent. My wife had picked out the perfect gift to spend family time together and enjoy the great outdoors.
After testing out the tent in the backyard and making sure we had all the pieces, we were ready for our first real adventure. We drove to the beach and found the site we would call “home” for several days. We made many memories exploring, swimming, building sand castles, cooking s’mores, and crossing paths with a skunk family. (Thankfully no one got sprayed!) Our time was special, but by the end of the week, we were all ready to sleep in a warm bed again, surrounded by four sturdy walls. Tents are a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
That tent reminds me of a much greater Christmas gift. Two thousand years ago, God did the unthinkable. He pitched a tent and lived among us. John 1:14 says “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
When Jesus was born, the creator came to earth and set up camp. He preached the gospel, healed the sick, raised the dead, lived a perfect life, and invited twelve disciples to watch him up close and personal. He was tempted and suffered in every way like us, yet never sinned. Then he went to the cross, taking the punishment for our guilt, and rising again on the third day.
But where is Jesus now? He is no longer the lowly infant of Bethlehem. He is the sovereign king of heaven, building a permanent home for all who trust in him. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).
The king accepted a tent on earth so we can enjoy a mansion in heaven. That is the story of Christmas.
A Merry Christmas to you and your family. Many local churches will be holding a candlelight service tonight for Christmas Eve. Why not attend one? It’s a great way to gather with friends and celebrate the best gift of all – God’s own Son.
Question: What Christmas tradition helps your family celebrate the true meaning of Christmas? Share your thoughts by clicking here.
This article first appeared in our local newspaper, The Hi Desert Star.
Photo credit: Naito8