Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Advent 4

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
(Luke 2:6, 7, New Living Translation)

Gifts…Chosen…Purchased…Bubble-wrapped, if fragile…Presentation box, if expensive…Paper, to conceal…

There is a certain ritual to gift-giving. It is not considered enough to simply give a gift, even one chosen because we know that it will be valued. To hand over a gift – “There, have this” – is too abrupt, rude even. It suggests a power hierarchy – “Look what I have done for you” – which undermines the very concept of gift. Instead, we take the gift and wrap it up, so that, in the act of giving, the gift itself is concealed. The gift is received concealed, and this gives rise to three distinct experiences of pleasure:

Concealed – the pleasure of anticipation, as we wonder what is in our hands, and appreciate the effort taken by the giver…

Unwrapping – the pleasure of revelation, as the gift becomes visible, little by little, as we actively engage in discovering what it is…

Exposed – the pleasure of the gift itself, an ongoing pleasure as the gift becomes a part of our life, according to its purpose be that practical or aesthetic…

In a box, packed with straw
Wrapped in linen
The gift
Awaits Christmas morning

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:29 am

    Thanks for these Advent thoughts Andrew. You are making me think, yet again, and I appreciate it. I think I am getting almost as excited about Advent as Jo!