One of the words we often hear around Christmas time is the word 'noel,' which simply refers to the birth of Christ. One of the songs we sing at Christmas time is called The First Noel. That song tells the story of Christ's birth and the events that followed it. The birth of Christ is the real reason why we celebrate Christmas.
The lyrics of the First Noel can teach us many things about giving this time of year. For example, the first ones to hear the good news of Christ's birth were poor shepherds. Please understand that I am not the one calling these shepherds 'poor' nor am I making a blanket statement about all people who tend sheep for a living. I was the Sheep Superintendent for 25 years! Instead, the words "poor shepherds" are part of the lyrics of the song. Nevertheless, shepherding in biblical times was hardly a rich man's job.
That these shepherds were poor is significant because it shows God's care and concern for all human beings. Christmas is for everyone. Christmas is not about getting rich or flashing one's wealth or spending a lot of money on gifts; instead, it is a time for recognizing the birth of Christ and including everyone we know in that celebration, especially those who may be less fortunate.
The song goes on to tell the story of the magi who came from the East to worship the Christ child. These men came with great wealth, but the kind of gifts they gave to the baby Jesus may seem a bit odd at first until you understand their true meaning. These three gifts were personalized for who Jesus really was. They gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold is a gift fit for a king; frankincense was something only a priest could use, and myrrh was a burial ointment. So, the magi worshiped the baby Jesus by honoring him as a king, as a priest, and as the Savior of the world who would have to die as an atoning sacrifice for sins.
Like the magi, Christmas is about giving, and personalized gifts are always much more meaningful than extravagance and expense alone. Finding that perfect gift for someone you love can be a challenge, but once you find it, it communicates an intimate kind of love which money alone cannot buy. Giving a personalized gift values the person receiving it for who they really are. God has created each one of us so uniquely that even identical twins, who share the same DNA, have their own identity, their own personality, and their own tastes for what they like and dislike.
Finally, I would like to remind you that every good gift ultimately comes from above. God took the initiative at the first Christmas to send us the man who would become the Savior of the world. So, as we enjoy the spoils of Christmas this year, let us not forget the One who has blessed us, and may we always remember why Christ had to be born. I truly wish for you and your family to have a merry Christmas this year!