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Today is Boxing Day. Christmas Day came and went. The morning was characterised by the usual business/busyness of gifts and church (worship?). Then there was lunch and clearing away, and then games and conversation, a movie, and then bed. How precious were the gifts I gave and those I received? Did any of them matter? It is hard these days for me to find a special gift for my wife, and her for me. It is possible that the most precious gift for my wife yesterday was that she did not have to prepare the Christmas dinner, because our son and daughter-in-law invited us to eat at their table and share the dinner they had prepared.

cakesBefore Christmas I watched my daughter preparing gifts for every person on her course at Hereford Technical College. Instead of shopping for each of them she decided to bake. A long evening was spent in the kitchen as Beth poured herself into the gifts she was preparing for her classmates. It was close to midnight before five different types of cake had been completed, sliced, iced, decorated, and placed into clear bags tied with ribbon. The cupcake at the top of each bag bore the initial of the recipient. These were personal gifts.

If Beth had calculated the cost of the ingredients she used then the total would not have been significant. I wonder what her friends thought when presented with the gifts? Did they see just a bag of cakes, or did they realise that Beth gave part of herself when making these gifts, small as they were. The cost was given in an evening sacrificed in a small kitchen as my daughter worked to show her friends how much she cares, and how much her friends mean to her.

Scripture records some details of the preparation that God put into His Gift to us. There were promises provided through prophets many hundreds of years before the Gift. Closer to the time messengers visited Elizabeth, Zechariah, Mary and Joseph. Prior to this a star was placed in the night sky to announce the soon arrival of the Gift. And close to midnight on the night we remember on Christmas Day, God poured Himself into human form and became the Gift. A gift without price, a gift given at great cost. A gift that shows how much the Giver cares. How can I respond to such a gift?

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1: 16-20 NIV)