Don't forget to open (and share) your Christmas gift

Don't forget to open (and share) your Christmas gift

Story and Verse: This is the second in a Thanksgiving-to-Epiphany series.

THE IMAGE of the unopened gift opens up a sad place in the Rev. Harry Howe’s heart.
“My mother-in-law always had two gifts under the tree at Christmas that had no name on them,” he explains. “She said she had these gifts so that if someone showed up, stranger or not, there would be a gift for them.”
There was always one gift for a male and one for a female. The gifts were placed under the tree along with all the other presents that had someone’s name on it. Over time, Howe’s mother-in-law could identify which present was for male or female by its wrapping paper, but she couldn’t remember what was inside.
Many years ago, Howe – a preacher, missionary and physician’s assistant – began to think about how the unopened gift represents the way many Christians approach Advent.
“We get so wrapped up in the holiday, we forget what the real gift of Christmas is,” he says. “We fail to open up and not only claim this gift, but we also fail to share God’s gift with others.”
Here’s the poem Howe wrote to express his hope for a Christmas that unveils Christ to us all.

The Unopened Gift

Now there it is, I just can’t wait
    Wrapped so lovely for all to see
Tied so neatly with ribbon and bow
    My Christmas present under the tree
It’s the biggest, the one for me
    Beside the others it’s so grand
For I deserve the best there is
     The greatest present in all the land
There’re many gifts all scattered round
    With tags in place beside the bow
And on these tags a name is written
    So my present I’ll surely know
But in the back obscured from view
    Sets a present without a name
The gift not opened on Christmas day
    It’s only there if a stranger came
Now we receive so many gifts
    All wrapped with tender loving care
They are expressions of someone’s love
    These gifts of Christmas that we share
But there’s a gift that’s humbly wrapped
    And goes unnoticed year to year
It’s the gift that God has given
    And it’s the gift that brings us here
In this season let’s remember
    The greatest gift comes from above
Open now to its reception
    The gift of God’s eternal love

-- Harry Howe

Coming next week: She Sits Alone


Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.