Reading: Isaiah 53 verses 1 – 6
Thought: If I’ve got plenty time and all the bits and pieces I need, I love wrapping presents and packaging them up in an interesting way. I remember sometimes thinking of lots of creative and unusual ways to wrap and decorate presents and make them look lovely. No matter how pretty they may look when they’re wrapped, if the gifts are to be enjoyed, the paper has to be taken off and, in most cases, that means being ripped, torn or, at its best, well and truly wrinkled!
One year, I remember well when our eldest was very little, spending ages wrapping lots of little bits and pieces for her: little books and little toys that were perfect for little hands but too big to fit in little mouths. ‘She’ll have so much fun with this wrapping paper!’ I thought. ‘She’ll not only get to enjoy what’s inside, but she’ll have the fun tearing the paper off and finding the treasures in each package.’
So, when she’d seen the gift that wasn’t wrapped, we presented her with the little wrapped treats. And do you know what she did? Nothing! It didn’t matter that they were in bright, colourful wrapping paper. It didn’t matter that she would ( and eventually did) have fun with what was inside, she just wasn’t interested in taking the paper off for herself and, you guessed it, in the end, it was me, the one who’d spent ages wrapping up the little treats for her who ended up tearing it all off again!!!
I also remember once at Chrisymas when I was little ( in around 500 years ago at last count ;o) ) being given a present. But, horror of horrors!!!! Someone had torn some of the paper and I could see what was inside. I still remember being so incredibly upset by this … a bit rich from someone who spent much of their childhood tearing corners and catching sneaky peeks at what was in anything under the tree with my name on it! Now, I look back on that moment and cringe because, do you know what I also remember? The gorgeous, fluffy, cosy red jumper that was inside it! I took away some of my own initial enjoyment because the outside wasn’t what I hoped it would be and yet, it made no difference in the end. I still got a gorgeous present that I was able to wear and love ( you can love a cosy, red jumper, right?!)
That reminds me so much of what we read at the beginning of Isaiah 53. The prophet tells us that Jesus would have ‘no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him.’ Today, we are so used to people taking photos and editing them or putting filters on them that we almost expect everyone to look flawless and if famous people have an ‘off’ sort of a day, they’re likely to hit the headlines. This reading, however, reminds us that it really is not what is on the outside that counts. The fact that there was nothing physical about Jesus’ appearance to draw people to Him did not mean that He wasn’t special. Jesus came to earth to bring hope of eternal, everlasting life and to bring us peace through His life and act of selfless and unconditional love, when He died on the cross, taking our place.
When God was guiding Samuel to pick David as the new King of Israel, God reminded Him in 1 Samuel 16 verse 7 that while people may look at someone’s physical appearance, ‘God looks at the heart.’ Jesus did not come to turn heads, He came to turn lives around. You may think that you need to look a certain way to fit in but, the truth of the matter is, that God is much more interested in your heart and, since it is your heart that will direct you to act in a particular way, that will show what really matters to you, it is your heart that will shine through and show others what you are really like, not the way you dress or look.
Jesus came to earth and made a bigger impact that any fashion model or superstar has ever done. As we spend time maybe getting ourselves dressed up and ready to go to Christmas parties or get- togethers, don’t forget to spend time preparing your heart too. Remember, God doesn’t need you to have a particular look or fashion style to be able to use you, He just needs a heart that trusts Him and is willing to be used by Him to show love to those we meet each day, no matter what their appearance, or how they’re wrapped up!!
Carol of the Day: Holy Child, Who Chose the Hearts of Men
Advent Activity: Family Time … no mess, no fuss, just the fun and joy of an evening spent doing something together that you enjoy.
Materials Needed: Time and something you love!