December 21, 2020

Advent 2020 - Gift Giving

 Devotion for the Week...

It's the fourth week of Advent! I get daily updates now from Nathan about how many days are left to Christmas 😊 We have started our Christmas break and it feels wonderful to know I don't have to set the alarm for two weeks. Not that I'm capable of sleeping in anymore, but at least I don't wake to the sound of the alarm.

For the Advent devotions this year, we've been looking at some of our Christmas symbols/traditions and so far we've focused on Christmas music, angels and stars. Today we'll turn our attention to gift giving. Oh, what a tangled web this one turned out to be! When I started researching the history of gift giving, I found everything from 'it's to remind us of the gifts the Wise Men gave Jesus' to 'it's a creation of society's elites who were protecting their own interests."

As far as I can make out, giving gifts was common for centuries, but those gifts were mostly handmade and/or edible. It wasn't until sometime in the 1800s that it started to become more common to buy Christmas gifts, especially for children. Marketing departments quickly realized how beneficial this could become and their efforts gradually led to the shopping season we know today.

There is a biblical basis for giving gifts, though, of course. Speaking of the Wise Men, Matthew wrote, "They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh" (Matthew 2:11). Why gold, frankincense and myrrh? Well, that's a source of speculation, too. There are scholars who believe the gifts were symbolic, with gold representing Jesus' kingship, frankincense His role as priest and myrrh either His role as prophet or His death. 

There are others who believe these gifts were given purely because they were valuable and would be of financial benefit to the young family. When Jesus was presented in the temple at 8 days old, "they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—'either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons'" (Luke 2:24), which reveals that they weren't a wealthy family, since the Law stated, "If a woman cannot afford to bring a lamb, she must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons" (Leviticus 12:8). Those gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh would have been a treasure to Mary and Joseph, for certain.
Jesus Himself is the ultimate gift |

On a deeper level, the whole of Christmas is the giving of a gift. "For a child is born to us, a son is given to us," it says in Isaiah 9:6. Jesus Himself is the ultimate gift, the Son given to all humanity to offer salvation from our sins. Shop all we like, we'll never find a gift to top the news that "The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!" (Luke 2:11).

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