“That first Christmas, God gave us His best.” This is on the front of the Christmas card my parents sent me this year. I read that simple line and tears started down my cheeks. It may be simple, but it’s very profound.
God’s generosity cannot be outdone. God the Father gave us a bit of Himself through His Son to save us. Jesus did not magically appear and claim that all was forgiven and that we’re now sons and daughters of God. As Saint Paul reminds us, “Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate…” (Phil 2:7). God’s best was born just like the rest of us. He lived, working as a carpenter until he began his public ministry. He was like you and me, and yet so much more. He knows our challenges and successes, because He dwelt in the midst of people just like you and me. He is our role model in being a child of God.
During the course of a year it’s hard to bring out best to everything. But at Christmas, we all want it to be the best it can be …. or do we want it to be perfect as we imagine perfection to be? We want to give our friends and family the best we have. When Jesus came, God’s messengers announced the good news to the working shepherds of the day, humble and poor men. Do we give our best to those who are in need, those we don’t know? As we celebrate the birthday of Jesus, do we give Him our best? I know I never seem to have enough time to get the things I “have” to get done in order to celebrate Christmas. But time is a precious gift that God gives us; do we spend some of that time with Him (and without thinking about the long checklist of items yet to be completed)?
Every year the youth group of my parish put on a Living Nativity the Sunday before Christmas. They always do their best. It may not be perfect, but it’s done with love and serves as a great reminder of the events that occurred over 2000 years ago, and how God’s best continues to truly be a gift that keeps giving.