#680 - "Gift" by Aryn Michelle
Aryn Michelle talks about how we can redeem the concept of Christmastime gift giving by focusing on the gift of Jesus Himself.

Aryn Michelle began her musical journey singing in church, a path that would soon lead her to studying songwriting at Berklee School of Music. What followed was years struggling to find her place in the musical landscape, making music in the mainstream that hinted at faith but never quite finding her niche. Her new album Depth demonstrates a new perspective for Aryn, choosing to follow God's call and make unashamed music that shares the gospel openly.

"I've been a follower of Jesus Christ since I was 8 years old, but I have finally arrived at the place where I have let go of my personal ambition and simply want to go where God is taking me artistically. I hope Depth communicates the honesty and vulnerability of that spiritual growth," Aryn has explained of her current position. To cap off her busy 2015, Aryn has released a Christmas EP, Merry Christmas Again. I had the chance to speak with Aryn about her original Christmas song, "Gift."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

I have three children now, and they are 5, 3, and a newborn. With the older two, they understand Christmas and all of the traditions involved with it. When I asked my 5 year old daughter what we are celebrating, she said "the season!" I asked her what specifically we are celebrating, and I realized that I needed to ramp up the focus. 

When I went to write this song, I knew that sometimes "keeping Christ in Christmas" can be a challenge. No pun intended, but what do we get too "wrapped up" in? For kids, it's the gifts and their wish lists. I thought that was the one piece I was trying to redeem in the song. I think it's great and fun to give and get gifts that the kids will love, but at the same time, how can we turn the conversation towards Christ?

Perhaps it's because we're assaulted with songs, movies and TV shows that talk about how the spirit of Christmas is gushy feelings, decorating trees and throwing snowballs. Perhaps some of the blame can be placed on us for giving into the "busy-ness" of the season and making it about parties and shopping lists and Facebook worthy photo-ops. In my mind, I saw it as "either/or," with presents and shopping on one side and Jesus and the manger on the other side. Then I realized that it doesn't have to be a battle of sides. We can redeem these traditions and get them more focused on Christ. 

In the song, I talk about how I worked really hard to save money and buy a gift that I know someone would like. In the same way the gift of Christ coming as a baby is the most perfect gift that we've ever been given.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Romans 6:23 (VOICE): The payoff for a life of sin is death, but God is offering us a free gift--eternal life through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King.

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NASB): Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Isaiah 40:7-8 (NASB): The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

Matthew 5:18 (NASB): For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

John 3:28-30 (NKJV): "You yourselves bear me witness that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before Him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."

What is the takeaway message?

I was challenged to think about the little things we do to give gifts. We prepare and we sacrifice. So giving is sacrificial, spending money and time to put the gift together. Christ gave Himself as a perfect sacrifice. Giving and getting gifts is joyful, and it is a small glimpse of the incomprehensible joy we get from Christ in our lives. That's the message of this song. 

It doesn't have to be secular versus Christian Christmas. It's all Christmas, and in celebrating the gift we can remind ourselves and our kids that although these temporary gifts are fun, they have no comparison to the long-lasting, eternal life-giving gift of Jesus. He made a way for us to have reconciliation with God.

So how do we focus on Christ this season? We've got to keep in our hearts and minds that the birth of our Savior is of the utmost significance. Our almighty, powerful God, Creator of the universe, took on the humility of human form. And not just any human form, but the most helpless and dependent of human forms. He didn't choose a birth of privilege, but He chose to be born in an average family, from a humble town. 

I want to have wonder at this miracle. I want to have reverence for a God who would love us in such a passionate way. I want my joy to be found in the truth of Christ's gift in coming. I want to demonstrate the kind of abundant, selfless love Christ showed to us in that moment. So I challenge and encourage people to reflect on the significance of God coming to us as a baby, the most perfect gift of all.

I got a gift for you under that Christmas tree
I saved up every penny for something you'd like
I wrapped it up so pretty in bright red and green
I just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you tonight
'Cause tokens of love can be so sweet
But somehow they still feel incomplete
You could give a gift that would warm my heart
And I could give a gift that would bring a smile
We can bring our gifts and that's a good place to start
But we'll never get a gift as good as that little holy child
He was a gift to us that was selfless and pure
A joy filled miracle so gentle and kind
A precious gift to us sent right from heaven's door
He is that promised One, the hope of new life
It's the only gift that's everlasting
And it keeps on giving everyday
You could give a gift that would warm my heart
And I could give a gift that would bring a smile
We can bring our gifts and that's a good place to start
But we'll never get a gift as good as that little holy child
All other charms will pass away but His gift just keeps on giving
No matter what life brings my way yeah His gift just keeps on giving  
All other charms will pass away but His gift just keeps on giving
No matter what life brings my way yeah His gift just keeps on and on 
You could give a gift that would warm my heart
And I could give a gift that would bring a smile
We can bring our gifts and that's a good place to start
But we'll never get a gift as good as that little holy child

In the style of my favorite singer-songwriters Christa Wells, Sara Groves and Ellie Holcomb, I can't get enough of Aryn's thought-provoking album Depth, which includes my top "gourmet" song of the year, "Do the Same."  I hear a yearning and longing from Aryn to see Jesus face to face, and the phrase "A precious gift to us sent right from heaven's door, He is that promised One, the hope of new life," is something all believers can sing to God. That's one of those beautiful truths that we can all cling to and get through anything we might be dealing with on this side of eternity, knowing that we have a blessed hope waiting for us in Heaven. 

This song beautifully captures the Truth expressed in John 3:28-30 (NKJV). There's the knowledge that we are the bride of Christ, bowing in worship to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and the humility of our position. We are all called to have the faith expressed by John the Baptist: "He must increase, but I must decrease."

This song is a great way to thank Jesus for our undeserved gift of grace. Grace is freely given and isn't something we can earn by our good works. It is a gift from God by faith in Christ Jesus. The gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ started at Christmas and continues until we see Him face to face. To celebrate the gift of grace this Christmas and all year, remember "All other charms will pass away but His gift just keeps on giving." The Word of our God stands forever. Sing along with Aryn, "It's the only gift that's everlasting, and it keeps on giving every day." Amen to that!

Listen to the song below.


NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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