December 25, Christmas Day, is a day. That day marks the time we celebrate an event in the past. That event changed everything that was possible in mankind’s relationship to God. That event was the birth of Jesus – a gift for all mankind. Every person has been given this gift. But since he is the gift, only the ones who accept him can receive the gift. As long as there’s one present left, Christmas isn’t over. But once you accept the present of Jesus, you get the gift of salvation – all that he has done for you as the Prince of Peace. Our separation from God in the Garden of Eden is where our brokenness began. You can never be whole, never have peace, until you are reconciled with the God who loves you, the God who formed you. Jesus came to reconcile us with God, his Father – to restore us to full relationship. In the Biblical view, peace is neither boring solemnity nor simply a sense of rest and contemplation. The peace that Jesus brought is not mere meditation – it’s wholeness of the entire person. Completeness. Soundness in spirit, soul, and body. Nothing missing, nothing broken. Like any good gift – a first bike or a musical instrument, for example – it takes time to be able to use it, more to master it. And like any truly great gift such as love or reconciliation with God – it can take a lifetime of experience to understand and appreciate it in its full benefits and complexity. Confusing, seemingly contrary emotions are only natural. But the acceptance of God’s peace terms – all of you for all of him – instantly starts the process. It changes everything. Not that it changes “every thing”. It does not change all of your outer circumstances, including the people around you. But it immediately gives you the right and ability to access God in a direct way, to begin to enter into his presence without fear. And by fundamentally changing your relationship to God, it can ultimately change the landscape around you – your perspective and your ability (with God’s help) to confront anything that faces you. Accepting God’s gift exchange instantly shifts the balance of power. Before, you were on the devil’s turf, without God’s protection, with very limited means of contacting God for help. Afterward, not only can you call on God for help, but you have the right to every promise in his Word, which belongs to all who’ve taken God at his word and been born again. Anyone can receive a gift from someone else. Anyone can give a gift to someone else. Any gift you’ve received is yours whether you give one in return or not. But any relationship is infinitely better, fuller, more complete when there is an exchange. If you’ll accept who Jesus says he is, and accept what he’s already done for you, then he will give you eternal life and instant citizenship in Heaven. He will take full responsibility for your sin – every wrong thing and every bad thing you’ve ever done. He’s already paid for it. He just needs you to agree with him – he will not force you. The day after the Nativity was the first day of the dawning of a new day. A day of peace, of reconciliation. The day after Christmas is not so much “the end of a season” as it is another day in the light of the ongoing age of God’s favor. The celebration of Christmas reminds us of the beginning of that favor, that arrival of peace on Earth, goodwill toward mankind. Jesus was God’s peace offering, an extension of his hand to us. In a certain sense, Christmas Day isn’t really over as long as the last present is still under the tree, unopened. Your name is on it already. All you have to do is take it and open it. Accept Jesus. His birth is why we have a Christmas to celebrate. And you are the reason why he was born. Don’t leave the best present under the tree.