James1-17aDon’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 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 first fruits of all he created. James 1:16-18As soon as I saw this picture of a gift, I saw a cross.  The place where our Savior died.  But he didn’t stay there…He was raised on the 3rd day.  His death was the beginning of life for everyone who believes.  His death brings us life eternal.  His death brings the sacrifice for our sins.  And the empty cross and the empty tomb spells Hope and Victory for all of us who love Him.I love the reference to the shifting shadows.  Jesus is from the Heavenly lights that do not shift like shadows.  Nothing changeable about our God in Heaven.  God chose to rebirth us through the Word of Truth.  (Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light –)Imagine what it is like when a young mother gives her child the most costly gift possible, and it is wrapped in angel songs and love.  But it lays beneath the tree, and the child has no interest in even opening the gift.  The child pretends that her mother is not even present, ridicules her mother and casts doubt about her place in the child’s life.That child is like so many of us, when we deny Jesus or place someone else in his stead to worship.  For worship we must. The child who loves and is grateful for the gift of love from the heart of her Mother.  That child will be set free from sin and become slaves of God.  The benefits lead to holiness, being made pure to live eternally with God.  This is only possible in Christ Jesus our Lord.This Christmas, what are you doing with your gift from God?  Are you squandering the gift?  Or are you clasping it to your heart knowing all the joy that will be yours at the end of this life?  Do you want to be set free of sin?  Listen to the carols, listen to the Words written by God, listen….for your life, and my life depend on being a receptive listener.But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:22-23