The Presence of Presents

Read: Matthew 2:1-12

Christmas has overwhelmingly become about the presents under the tree. This is fairly obvious due to the crowded stores and hurried delivery trucks this time of the year. Some people enjoy this part of Christmas because of the joy and symbolism of gift giving and others say that it has made Christmas too materialistic. There is probably some truth to both.

When opening gifts at Christmas we are amazed sometimes how little children often find just as much enjoyment in the boxes and wrappings as they do the presents that are inside. Wired magazine, which is a publication on high-tech things, recently ran an article that named the top five best toys ever. Their list included…. A stick, a box, string, a cardboard tube, and dirt. That makes us wonder if we really need to spend all of that money.

But there is enjoyment in blessing others with gifts and there is some tradition and history behind the reason that we give those gifts. Not everyone agrees on the exact reason that we give gifts but some of the reasons are obvious. The Magi brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh when they came to Bethlehem to worship Jesus the newborn King (Matthew 2). God gives us the gift of His Son as our Savior at Christmas. Jesus brings us the gift of grace and salvation through his birth, life, and sacrifice.

The New Testament uses the word “Gift” 66 times and many of those references are referring to Jesus coming to us and saving us from our sins. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he GAVE his one and only Son…” Ephesians 2 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the GIFT of God…”

Obviously the nature, value, and intention of giving gifts varies from person to person and family to family. In the early days of gift giving presents were very modest and included such things as cakes, fruit, nuts, dolls and items of clothing. These days they can be about as large and expensive as a person can dream up. But despite the cost or the gift the most important part of giving someone a gift is the love that goes with that gift.

So, there are many reasons that we give gifts during this time of the year. But as we give those gifts let us celebrate, remember, and treasure the greatest gift that has ever been given to us in Jesus Christ. He has blessed us in so many ways that we want to bless others and give to others, and if we do it in the right spirit those blessings can be extended.

Make it personal:  If you have children or grandchildren who are excited about opening their gifts this Christmas (and whose kids are not?) take the time to talk with them about why we give and receive gifts during this time of the year. It is a great opportunity to tell the story of God, Jesus, the Magi, and probably many others. Enjoy giving your gifts this Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church