“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One had done great things for me--holy is His name."- Luke 1:46-49
One of our family's favorite parts of the gift-giving tradition on Christmas morning is opening what's in the stockings. The stockings are always the first gifts to be opened in our home before the hot cocoa is sipped and cinnamon rolls are scarfed down. To me the stocking speaks to something significant about the manner in which God's love is personally and abundantly poured out to His children.
First, each stocking in our home is unique and identifiable to the one it belongs to. For example one of our son's stockings is based on his favorite color, Joanie's stocking is from her childhood and still has her name on it, and Mia's stocking is from China with some very special designs. Stockings are so important in our family, that even the dogs have their own!
Second, each year the stocking will have a similar theme of gifts. These gifts can be favorite treats that each kids has, a funny and yet practical gift (i.e.- underwear; toothbrush), or a smaller item/accessory piece to one of the larger gifts to come.
Finally and most importantly, the thing that has always stood out to me about the stockings is that it is the one time the kids are not comparing their gifts to others, complaining about what they didn't get, or fighting over what someone else received. In many ways that is a minor miracle, as often Christmas morning can include the boys counting the number of gifts each one has and comparing the "big" gift each one received.
As I think about how the stocking is so personal and specific to each person in the family, I am reminded of how the Christmas story is marked by God's personal greeting and personal care to each one. The gift of God is evident in how He knows each person by name, meets each person at their point of need, and provides a loving touch and light guiding answer.
* As Mary is troubled at the angel's greeting she received a word of affirmation.
"But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Jesus."- Luke 1:30-31
* As Joseph is burdened by his decision about Mary he received a word of clear instruction.
"But after he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in here is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins."- Matthew 1:20-21
* As Zechariah is startled by the angel while working in the temple he received a word of answered prayer.
"But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John."- Luke 1:13
* As the shepherds are frightened at the sight of the unexpected nighttime visitor they received a word of promise.
"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ, the Lord."- Luke 2:10-11
* As the wise men arrive in Jerusalem searching for the newborn King the star provided them a word of direction.
"After they heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the Child was."- Matthew 2:9
What an amazing gift each received at the Birth of God's Son and our Savior! Each one were given a message of comfort as they were told, "Do not be afraid." Each were given a specific answer to their very personal point of need and/or crisis. And most importantly each received the message to make known God's special plan in sending His Son to the world. It was clearly made known to and it was gloriously seen by each one! It is as if each one's stocking was specifically chosen and filled by God based on who they were, where they were at in life, and how God wanted to use them.
May this Christmas be one where God speaks to your heart in a comforting way. May He speak peace, truth, and hope to places that seem difficult to compute and hard to decide what to do with. May this Christmas be one where God speaks to your heart in a guiding way. May He provide you with the perfect answer that opens doors, that makes clear the decision to make and steps you are to take, and leads you to places of breakthrough. May this Christmas be one where God speaks to your heart in an amazing way. May He reveal to you a glimpse of His promises in such a way that you encounter His love, His glory, and His nature in a new dimension and in such a remarkable way that you are set free from all doubt and fear. As Christmas draws nearer know that He is drawing near to you!