Advent | God's gift

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." –James 1:17-18 (NIV)

Today is my birthday. No, really! You are reading this devotion on my birthday. People often ask me whether having a birthday so close to the day upon which we celebrate Christ’s birth has been burdensome, but how could I complain that the Son of God was horning in on my big day when the sum and substance of Christmas is about God’s gift to me and to you?

I love the atmosphere that comes with the Christmas season as it is observed in my church, among the people I find myself ministering to and from the employees who give so much care and compassion to people who are in our hospitals. Knowing Christ through the years has deepened my appreciation for the way Christ’s birth gave eternal meaning to my birth. Not a bad birthday gift.

Several years ago, six year-old Caitlin taught me that lesson yet again. She was having a birthday, and I excitedly recounted the best birthday present I ever received -- twin six shooter cap guns and a cowboy hat. “What was the best gift you ever got?” I asked. Without missing a beat she said, “The Holy Spirit!” Well played, Caitlin. Well played indeed.

May the spirit of love, even Christ Jesus himself, make this day a joyous, holy, wonderful blessed gift for you.

R. Mark Grace is chief mission & ministry officer for Baylor Scott & White Health and is a board certified chaplain. He is married to Linda Wilkerson and has two children, Nate and Megan. Mark and Linda also serve as pastors emeritus for Iglesia Bill Harrod, a bilingual, multicultural congregation in West Dallas.

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