Here comes Christmas, ready or not! I don't know why it always seems to catch me off guard. I depend on Thanksgiving to help me prepare mentally and practically for Christmas, but this year it feels like Thanksgiving got lost in the shuffle. It seems that we jumped straight from October right into the “Holiday” shopping season. The Christmas decorations went up, but the emphasis is not on Christmas. The emphasis is on shopping. Christmas and Thanksgiving are both getting lost.
We need Thanksgiving to help us prepare for Christmas in many important ways. We desperately need to have humble and thankful hearts. When did “Black Friday” become all about getting really good deals and shopping for ourselves? In fact, when did Black Friday become Black Friday? I know this is a long time ago, but when I was growing up, the day after Thanksgiving was called, “the day after Thanksgiving.” It was the kick off for Christmas shopping and the biggest shopping day of the year. But the focus of shopping on the day after Thanksgiving was for Christmas gifts for others! Now-a-days, for those who already have most everything they want, they can also get some “sweet deals” on planning vacays for themselves. Really? Is this what the most wonderful time of the year is all about now? We seriously need to refocus our priorities. We need to be humble and thankful.
Thanksgiving helps me get my heart ready for Christmas. There is so much to do at Christmas time (too much, in my opinion, but that is a separate article). As we enter into the Christmas season, we all need thankful hearts. We need to focus more on giving than getting. And we need to focus on the Baby in the manger. After all, the tradition of gift giving was inspired by the wise men’s gifts to baby Jesus.
The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter two tells us that wise men (Magi) from the east saw the star which announced the birth of Jesus. They traveled from the east to Jerusalem to worship Him, and they brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (2:1-2) …. and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. (V.9) …. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary his Mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (11)
We are not told much about the wise men, but we can deduce from history that they were scholars and astrologists who studied the stars and Hebrew Scriptures. They knew about the God of the Hebrew people and the predictions of the coming of their King of Kings. The gifts they brought were strikingly significant for the Christ Child. Gold is the metal of kings. When gold was presented to Jesus, it acknowledged His right to rule. Frankincense (incense) was used in temple worship and was mixed with the oil that was used to anoint the priests of Israel. Frankincense pointed to Christ as our great High Priest. Myrrh was used for embalming and thus pointed to Christ’s death and burial prior to His resurrection on the third day.
The first Christmas gifts were given to the Christ child and had great significance. What about the gifts we give. What about all our busyness and preparations. Is Jesus the focus of our Christmas? He is the Reason for the Season. He IS the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
Wishing you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!