So, what was the greatest gift this Christmas?

Some up-to-date technology, games, boxsets, designer clothes and shoes, expensive smelly stuff?

It’s curious that once young kids open their pressies often it’s their boxes that provide the most entertainment.

I joined our chaplaincy team in Greenwood and Irvine Royal Academies in the week prior to Christmas, where we had lots of festive fun with quizzes, games, Elvis style singing and dancing and consideration of what the greatest gift of Christmas is.

As well as the expected material stuff, time with family was mentioned, and I was pleasantly stunned for a moment when one student said, ‘Jesus’.

What a great answer, so I asked, “So, let’s unpack what it means to receive Jesus?” We homed in on the greatest gift of being loved unconditionally. To ‘be-loved’ by family, friends, and ultimately by God (who may presently be unknown to you by name) is to be freed to simply be-loved, not needing to do anything to earn or achieve it, able to ‘be’, and free to grow up well.

But we’re so easily distracted from accepting and receiving this Love, dragged into the past by regrets or rushed into the future by the seeming urgent, we miss the great gift of the ‘present’.

Can I encourage you daily to take a moment to switch off your phone, come away from noise, be still, and breathe in Love and Blessing, to know for sure, “You Are Loved! You are precious, You are special, You are unique, You are Loved!” Take time to ‘be-loved’ and ‘blessed’, readied to be loving and be a blessing to others.

As someone put it, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the ‘present’.” Perhaps you are scared to stop and simply ‘be’, because you don’t want to face up to something difficult to accept, raw reality which you’d rather ignore or leave to later.

Take time to be still in the company of Someone who you can’t see, but Who Loves you enough to leave the comfort and protection of Heaven to shrink to human size, come along side us, and move into your heart, if you let Him.

We had such fun in the schools! I’m most impressed with the dedication and devotion of our local teachers and heads! And, given the chance to perform in the Matilda and Hairspray musicals, and shine in other public displays of talent, it’s amazing what was and can be done.

And there’s Lionel Messi performing on the great stage of the World Cup Final after scoring his second goal crossing himself and pointing heavenward in gratitude to God. There’s only one Messi and only one ‘you’, and when you know that you are truly loved, come-what-may, it frees you to step out, step up, take calculated risks and know that even if you fall flat on your face, you’re ok and all will be well!

In our school assemblies and Fullarton Watchnight service we played Elvis’s great love ballad ‘The Wonder of You’.

The words describe this resilient Love of God for each one of us. Take time to pause and let their truth sink in, “YOU ARE LOVED!’

“When no-one else can understand me, When everything I do is wrong

You give me hope and consolation, You give me strength to carry on

And you’re always there to lend a hand In everything I do

That’s the wonder, The wonder of you

And when you smile the world is brighter, You touch my hand and I’m a king

Your kiss to me is worth a fortune, Your love for me is everything

I guess I’ll never know the reason why You love me as you do

That’s the wonder, The wonder of you!”