the radical gifts of christmas

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)

These are the gifts of Christmas, the ones delivered to us from God by Mary's son. There are more: 

comfort for all who mourn
provision for those who grieve
a crown of beauty (instead of ashes)
the oil of joy (instead of mourning)
a garment of praise (instead of a spirit of despair)

you shall be called by new names:
oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor
priests of the Lord, ministers of our God

you shall receive a new purpose:
rebuild the ancient ruins
restore the places long devastated
renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

(instead of your shame) you will receive a double portion,
(instead of disgrace) you will rejoice in your inheritance.

“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness 
I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them."

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my GodFor he has clothed me 
with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61)


The radical, reconciling, redemptive gifts of Christmas won't fit under any tree, (and I don't mean that as a "The true meaning of Christmas isn't found at the mall!" cliche).

Freedom from chains of shame and despair. Freedom to become the community that lives out salvation together.

Comfort. Joy. Justice. Praise. Meaning. Mission. Restoration. Righteousness. Healing. Shalom.

A gospel that is good news for the grieving and worrisome to the empire's halls of power. The upside-down kingdom of our God-with-flesh, born in a barn, who lived to set a broken world aright.

These are the gifts. This is the Giver.

Unto us a child is born. Emmanuel, who lights our way.

Updated: I wrote this before the shootings in Newtown, but this scripture seem even timelier now. Apologies that the giveaway, (now closed), seems out of place. 
DaySpring wants to cheer one reader with a Reversible Tree Skirt and Advent Tabletop Devotional which they kindly sent my way, too. U.S. shipping only, please. (Affiliate links.)

To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment sharing something about how are you celebrating Christmas or what are you meditating on this advent. We'll pick a winner at random on Sunday at 11:59 PM EST, so please make sure you leave an email to get in touch.
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