Pastor’s pondering

It’s nearly here!  Christmas is but a few short days away!  The gifts will appear under the tree, and then wrapping paper will be scattered across the floor as the presents are torn open in a fury of excitement.  Things long considered and asked for may suddenly appear and we will jump for joy at their arrival, won’t we?  The long-honored tradition of gift giving and receiving this time of year is what many have come to know and love about Christmas.

            Yet, as we also may expect, much of this tradition can be traced back to Scripture.  Most of us know the story of the wise men (or magi) and their coming to Bethlehem to bring gifts for Jesus after his birth.  Yet, they didn’t bring diapers or a bassinet.  They didn’t bring toys or clothes.  Instead, they brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh, gifts of little use for a newborn, but of very deep meaning.

            Gold was given to royalty.  Frankincense to priests.  And myrrh?  Well, it is the traditional oil used to anoint someone at their death.  Not exactly the presents we might find under any of our trees this year.  Probably not anything Joseph and Mary ever expected to receive, especially from strangers from foreign lands.  What were they to make of it?  What are any of us to make of it?

            These gifts had meaning behind them.  They weren’t just another piece of swaddling cloth or any other commonly used item.  They signified something and had intention.  Do we do the same in our gift giving?  Do we really put thought into what we may give and why?  There’s an old saying, “It’s the thought that counts.”  Many have used it as an excuse for giving something poorly, as a way to say, well, at least I remembered to get you something.  But really think about those words – “It’s the thought that counts.”  It’s about really considering the who, what, when, where, and why of the giving.

            The wise men came because they knew who Jesus was and who he would become, and they had never even met him before!  They had seriously considered their gifts and wanted to make sure that they honored The One who would be known as King of kings and Lord of lords.  Can we say the same?  Do we put as much effort into what we offer Jesus?  Or do we think that doing anything, even with minimal effort is sufficient enough?

            Jesus has given us his very best – offering himself for all of us.  Why would we ever think that giving him just a little bit of ourselves is enough?  He died for all that we are, not just a small percentage.  He gave 100% of himself and asks us to do the same in return.  So, perhaps this Christmas, as you unwrap those gifts and see all that you have received, maybe we can also pause to realize the greatest gift of all was given to us and we have been given that gift that we may be a great gift to others around us.  How else can we truly experience hope, peace, joy, and love, but unless it is through Christ?

                                                                        Always pondering,

                                                                        Pastor Steve

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