Summary: What are you giving this Christmas? Where did all of this gift giving begin?
What are you giving this Christmas? I didn’t say getting, I said giving. What are you giving this Christmas? For the past few weeks I have been asking that question to almost everyone that I run into and have gotten some interesting answers and some great ideas.
One Scrooge gave me a one-word answer: “Nothing.” Nothing? “Nothing” Bah, humbug! Well, if you are giving this year, you’d better get with it. Time has almost run out. Before you know it, Christmas day will have come and gone and then we can start counting how many shopping days till Christmas, Christmas of 2001!
So what are you giving? Have you got something for everyone on your list? You haven’t left anyone off have you? What a catastrophe it would be if you forgot Uncle Waldo’s third wife, or maybe your bosses pet iguana. How embarrassing!
Gift giving has become such a big deal to some people that they spend half of their summer vacation searching for Christmas presents. Some buy their gifts for next year at the after Christmas sales this year. Then they put them away and hope that they can remember where they stashed them when Christmas rolls around again.
You know what I think, I believe that the ideal Christmas present is money. The only trouble is you can’t charge it! Of course you know that there are only two kinds of Christmas presents: those that you don’t want and those that you don’t get!
So where did all of this gift giving begin? How did it get started? Some say it started somewhere in Europe and the immigrants brought it to America. Others say it was the early American merchants who were just trying to make a buck. And others go all the back to the Magi, who visited Jesus and presented Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh after He was born.
But I believe that it was even before that. The first instance of gift giving at Christmas happened in the Bible. But it wasn’t between the Wise Men. It happened between Mary and God. Find Luke 1:26-38 and I’ll show you
This was the first Christmas gift exchange. Only two individuals attended. One came ready to give and was loaded down with present. The other was caught off guard and had to make do with what she had. As we read the passage, look for gifts that God and Mary gave that first Christmas. This is how they started the whole shebang.
So what did God give? Well first of all He gave
An Angel, This was not a cute, cuddly, chubby little guy. This was not a Clarence kind of character like in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” This was Gabriel – a messenger sent straight from the throne of God!
What is an angel? They’re great mysteries to us, and the bible gives us only a glimpse of them every now and then. This much we do know and can say for certain, though; “angel” means “messenger” and specifically God’s messenger – a being who arrives in our midst directly from the presence of God Himself!
You know had Mary been a young girl today, she might have not even noticed Gabriel standing there. Life is so busy – and so noisy, I’m not sure if any of us would notice. And, if we did, would we recognize Gabriel as an angle? I don’t know. But I do know this. Sometimes God sends His gifts to us in some pretty unusual packages – and if we’re not attentive, if we’re not looking, if we’re not listening – we can miss them!
He also gave Mary A Scare! How else could you describe her reaction in verses 28-29-30? The Bible says that ,”Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kin of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid…”
There seems to be this notion that when God steps into our lives, everything will be “merry and bright.” But, sometimes God’s intervention in our lives can be unsettling, disturbing, even frightening. That’s why angels tend to begin their conversations with us humans by saying, “Fear not! Don’t be afraid!”
It’s sort of basic training for angels I think. “Now look,” God tells them, “Don’t just appear and start the ‘Thus saith the Lord stuff. Start out with, ’Fear not!’ You don’t want their teeth chattering and their knees knocking so loud they can’t hear you.”
God gave Mary and angel. God gave Mary a scare. And then, God gave Mary
A Mystery! Look with me at verses 30-34. “Don’t be afraid, Mary you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”