The count down to Christmas has officially begun.

It’s the season to sing all the Christmas songs, again, and again and again… The season to watch all the telly adverts telling you what they feel is missing from your life! The season to watch all the Christmas movies, like Home alone 1,2,3,4…how many? The season to order all your packages online and hope they will actually arrive!

Amazon send a lot of boxes in the run up to Christmas. Last Christmas, they sent around 2.5 billion boxes! Indeed, my friend’s young son said, “I prefer Amazon to Father Christmas. Father Christmas just comes once a year but Amazon bring things every few weeks! Smart child!

As I write this it is just 8 days to Christmas Eve, 9 days to Christmas Day and 10 days to Boxing Day, the day so called because charity boxes outside churches were officially opened and the money given to the poor.

For some children, and adults, a box is what it’s all about. Did I get the BIGGEST box, did I get the MOST boxes? Did I get the THE box with the thing inside that I really wanted?

Whilst boxes have become a staple of Christmas morning, Christmas began with a very different kind of box.

“She gave birth to her first born son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

Now a manger is a long, rough, open box for animals to eat from. Can you imagine giving birth to your first child and their cradle is an animals’ feeding trough? (Your third child maybe, but not your first!) Yet this box held within it a precious treasure, Christmas’ greatest gift ever. A gift that will never break or get lost. A gift that will never date or wear out. A gift we all so desperately need… the gift of LIFE!

This Christmas, let’s think INSIDE the box.

Just as God placed Jesus in a lowly, easy to miss manger, so God will often place gifts in our lives which we may overlook because we are so busy looking for the largest and greatest. Whilst the shepherds, a people largely overlooked, saw the angels, heard heaven’s choirs and came to find and worship the Christ Child, others slept, and God’s greatest gift was missed, unnoticed and unreceived.

Q. I wonder what are some gifts that are easy for us to miss? A parent who works hard to provide for you? A snuggly bed to sleep in and a roof over your head? Eyes to see and ears to hear the beautiful creation around you?

I pray that every time you see a box this Christmas you are reminded of the lyrics, so beautifully sung by Year 7 at our church Carol Service this week: ‘Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.’

Don’t be deceived by the world around you, the greatest gift is often right under your nose.

God bless you and your loved ones this Christmas and always.

Tracy Morgan (Chaplain)