Are you good at wrapping presents? I'm not. I stink at it. Unless they are books or CDs. Those I can do. I don't think I'm the only one who's wrapping-challenged. I was at the Boulder REI the other day, where I heard a man on the PA system announce that a gift-wrapping seminar was soon to be offered. Wrapping goes with the Christmas season, whether we're good at it or not.
At Advent our family usually has some form of nightly devotion together. For our boys, the prospect of playing with matches (a.k.a. "lighting the Advent candles") and scarfing down chocolates (a.k.a. opening the Advent calendar windows) is too good to pass up. Anyway, this sporadic seasonal spirituality, when it works for us (which sometimes it does), can be very enlightening. The other night we were reading from Luke's Gospel, where, in Chapter Two, verse 7, we heard that Mary "gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger." For whatever reason, the verbs "wrapped" and "laid" leaped out at me.
Quickly flipping to the end of the gospel, sure enough, I saw them again, this time applied to Joseph of Arimathea, who took down the crucified body of Jesus, "wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb" (23:53). "Wrapped" and "laid" again! It's the perfect bookend to the life of Jesus: he enters this world (most likely) in a cave, where he's wrapped and laid for the hope of the world. He then exits this world in cave/tomb, where he's wrapped and laid for the sins of the world. The wrapping of God's gift! Christmas entry, Good Friday exit, the life and death of the Son of God in a perfect symmetry. The unwrapping of the gift we read about a bit further in the gospel, where on Easter the linen cloths that wrap Jesus' body are empty and Jesus is risen.
It's given me pause, this reference to wrapping: I wonder if the next time I'm muttering over my crinkled wrap-jobs and pesky Scotch tape, I will take time to consider the wrapping and careful placement of God's greatest gift. What a whole new way of looking at it!