Do you remember “leisure suits?”
My grandmother Combs used to buy a suit for all her grandsons every Christmas. She was a very smart shopper and would have most of her Christmas shopping finished for the following year’s holiday, by shopping the after-Christmas sales every year. She even kept a locked bedroom at her house that she called the “Christmas room,” because that’s where she kept next year’s presents, most of them already wrapped.
She carefully chose matching shirts, ties and socks to go with the suits and wrapped them separately, so that the ensemble was revealed in stages every Christmas. This progression was somewhat taxing for the grandsons because we were all anxious to open the gifts that might contain toys. Plus, she invariably insisted that we take a break and try the suits on, which always aroused sounds of young boy groanings and parental corrections.
Looking back, I understand why she wanted us to try them on. Buying suits for her growing grandsons required her to make an educated guess as to their annual growth rate. She made us try them on to see if she guessed right.
I invariably disappointed her. I was a late bloomer. I don’t think I grew much at all between the ages of 9 to 14. Every year, we had to exchange my suits because they were always too big. Then at age 15, I shot up eight inches in one year. I finally grew more than enough to wear my Christmas suit.
So, that was the year that she finally guessed right. It was also the year she decided to follow the new fashion trend of the ’70s. That year, she bought all the grandsons, polyester leisure suits (with matching wide ties and white belts of course).
And my leisure suit was yellow.
Because of her previous failings, she always included receipts, so I could exchange the suit. But there was no need for a gift exchange that year. Not only did the suit fit perfectly, but I was ready to do some “styling and profiling,” wearing that yellow suit with a fat tie, wide white belt, bell bottomed slacks and stacked heel shoes (Imagine the sound of BeeGees’ disco music playing in the background here).
It’s fun to remember Christmases gone by, with stories of yellow leisure suits and gifts we received from our parents and grandparents. But remembering those past Christmas times exchanging gifts that didn’t fit, reminds me that the greatest gift exchange of all has been offered by God through Christ.
Christ offers to exchange our…
- …sins for His righteousness. The apostle Paul wrote, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ took our sin and offers His righteousness to us.
- …separation for His Sonship. On the cross Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). In that moment, Christ experienced our separation from God the Father. He took this in exchange, offering His relationship as Son to us. As the gospel according to John said, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
- …death for His eternal life. Our need for this exchange is explained by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This death that Jesus died in our place is further explained in Hebrews, “But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). This is the great gift of God! That in His mercy, Christ died our death, so that we might receive His life!
This Christmas, may our focus be less on what gifts we need to exchange from under the tree, and more about the greatest gift exchange that is offered because of the Cross.
Have you received the greatest gift exchange?