We have a Thanksgiving ritual that has come to a position of prominence in our family. At some point on the day set aside to give thanks to our Creator for His blessings and provision, we have to find a newspaper. We do not have home delivery of the paper. We are like the millions of other Americans who get our news from online editions. But there is one paper each year that we must find – the Thanksgiving Day edition. I would like to say that it is for the riveting news. Perhaps even for the sports section. And while the comics might provide a window of humor on a day filled with turkey and cranberry sauce, the real reason is the sales papers. That is the edition where every store pulls out all the stops with full color ads and deals by the dozen. They list the store’s insanely early opening time and “doorbuster” specials.
What would compel us to interrupt our day of thanks for such a vain pursuit? The search for the perfect gift. One of our favorite parts of the Christmas season is giving gifts to our loved ones. Heather starts making her list early, but the fever really only takes hold once we have gotten the coveted Thanksgiving edition of the newspaper.
There are many who look at the gift side of Christmas as a bit “over the top” and I would agree with them to an extent. Retailers understand how important Christmas gifts are to their bottom line, therefore they help to fuel the frenzy. But gift giving has some significant ties to the Christmas story.
Tradition tells us that gift giving stems from the magi who brought Jesus gifts when they finally arrived to see him. That may in fact be true. To be truer to the symbol, however, we would be better off to increase our giving to church and missions during the Christmas season and cut out the gift giving to other people. The magi brought gifts as worship of Jesus and we still worship Jesus through our gifts.
Perhaps we give gifts at Christmas because we understand that God is a gift-giver. Christmas reveal to us some of the greatest gifts that have ever been given to mankind – given to us at the hands of our Creator. This Advent season, we will be considering a few of those gifts – the gifts of hope, joy, revelation, anticipation, and salvation – and their implications for mankind. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of the gifts God has given us, but these have specific ties to Christmas and the Old Testament prophesies that pointed the way to the first Advent of Jesus.
We exist today still awaiting the fulfillment of these gifts. Advent is the perfect season to renew our look to the sky. Inasmuch as the ancient Israelites looked forward with hope and expectation to the first advent of the Messiah, today we wait with hope and expectation for the second advent of the Messiah. For we know that when that comes, everything about our faith will be complete.
One day this week, I made a prophecy on a cloudy day. I said, “Come on sun, burn off the clouds,” hoping that the warm sunshine might obey my command. My son spoke up from the back seat and said, “Are you talking about Jesus or the sun.” Where I may have been speaking of the sun, my son had some understanding of God the Gift-Giver.
When you go shopping this season, let me encourage you to consider the gifts you have received from your creator. As you give to your loved ones, consider the possibility that you are not just mimicking the magi, you are doing something that is very near the heart of God.
Enjoying God’s Gifts