Isaiah 64:1-9 – A ribbon-wrapped box containing nothing?

empty gift

Reflecting and Doing

Much of Advent is taken up with buying gifts (that, and untangling Christmas lights). Gifts are great, but we can sometimes focus too much on the pretty outsides of Christmas and not so much on what is inside. It can become a ribbon-wrapped box containing nothing. So let’s make some invisible gifts to help us think about what is more important and what (while nice) is less.

You will need:

  • Empty fruit juice boxes, or similar
  • Christmas wrapping paper and ribbons
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape and double-sided sticky tape

Cut the top and bottom off your juice box so that you have a square or rectangular tube. Fold the tube flat and cut strips across it, about 2-3 cm / 1″ wide.

Open out the strips so that they look like broad ribbon round an invisible box.  You will need two ‘ribbons’ for each ribbon-wrapped gift.

Use wrapping paper and sticky tape to cover the card strips, inside and out.

Stand the strips up on the table and place on inside the other, at right angles, so that they look like the ribbons around a gift. If you started with a rectangular juice box, you can choose whether you make a tall, narrow gift, or a short, wide gift. Secure the strips where they cross with double-sided tape.

Add rosettes or gift tags to decorate.


“Oh, that you would burst forth from the skies and come down!”

As Advent starts, we look forward to celebrating the fact that he did. However, the busy-ness of Christmas in Western culture often means that by the time Dec 25th arrives we have been celebrating for weeks!

Of course it’s fun to wear dreadful jumpers to work, it’s lovely to sing carols by candlelight, it’s even OK to eat so many mince pies that your friends have  to roll you home.

But just before we dive head-first in to the glitter-infused double cream (with a healthy dash of sherry for Gran), let’s take this opportunity to slow down, and use Advent to prepare for, rather than pre-empt Christ’s coming.

Use this passage as personal worship or as a group meditation:

Read the first paragraph aloud slowly and reflect on God’s might and glory.
Read the second and consider our failure to meet God’s standards.
Read the third and rejoice in God’s mercy.
Then consider all those for whom this season of preparation for Christmas is only about setting out the sparkly lights and buying over-priced gifts – for whom Christmas is a ribbon-wrapped box containing nothing.
Oh, that you would burst forth from the skies and come down!


Isaiah 64:1-9 Living Bible

Oh, that you would burst forth from the skies and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence! The consuming fire of your glory would burn down the forests and boil the oceans dry. The nations would tremble before you; then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame! So it was before when you came down, for you did awesome things beyond our highest expectations, and how the mountains quaked! For since the world began no one has seen or heard of such a God as ours, who works for those who wait for him! You welcome those who cheerfully do good, who follow godly ways.

But we are not godly; we are constant sinners and have been all our lives. Therefore your wrath is heavy on us. How can such as we be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we put on our prized robes of righteousness, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves we fade, wither, and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away. Yet no one calls upon your name or pleads with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins.

And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay and you are the Potter. We are all formed by your hand. Oh, be not so angry with us, Lord, nor forever remember our sins. Oh, look and see that we are all your people.


Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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