The Best Gifts

I love this time of year.  I love walking through a mall and seeing all the people hustling along with their gift giving list in tow.  I know that one could argue in the worldliness of it all, but I like to think that their hearts are full as they thoughtfully consider the one they love. 

I reflect on my own love of giving gifts.  I really can't wait to watch my kids opening a gift I've spent half the year hiding. 

On my way home from the mall, with carols playing on the radio, I considered for a moment on the Wise Men, and precious gifts they offered baby Jesus. These weren't just men in the town of Bethlehem who thought to drop a little gift by the new baby down the street.  These were men of important reputation.  These were men from far away places who brought gifts of great significance; gifts that symbolized what they knew about this child, born into a poor and lowly family.  They had yet to witness of the width and breadth of Christ's short life on the earth but they journeyed for months to minister to this family.  Regardless of the circumstances of his birth, he was thought of as royalty.

Gold, Frankincense and  Myrrh were the gifts given.  Not only were they of great worth from a worldly view but spiritually as well.  The gold, symbolizing his precious, everlasting purpose as a Savior of the world.  Frankincense to symbolize his healing mission as he ministered to everyone he met and Myrrh.  Myrrh is my favorite gift to learn about.  It was used, in the day, to embalm the dead but not only that, it was a healing oil.  To me, Christ's death allows us all to experience an eternal healing from the battle scars of mortality.

So, what about the Shepherds?  They didn't come with gifts of worldly worth.  They had nothing to offer and in fact, Shepherds at the time, were thought of as dirty, often shunned people yet they were the first to be privileged to see and hear the Angel announcing the birth of Christ. They went right away.  They obeyed.  They witnessed the miracle of birth; the Savior of the World.
Art: Carl Bloch

And then the Angels...they never left the side of the Mary and Joseph.  They stood by faithfully, they led the way and they accompanied Christ in the most difficult of circumstances as he grew and suffered in his final days of preparing the greatest gift we could receive.

What are we to learn from the Advent of Christ?  Christ is a Savior to all; the wealthy, the poor, the sinner and the saint.  His birth was a gathering of all.  As we minister to those around us and light their world, are we gathering all, as Christ did?  We all have a place in lifting the burdens of others.  We can bring the gifts, the worldly things that matter; a meal, a tank of gas, warm clothes, priceless treasures even.  We can be like the Shepherds and arrive quickly and witness and revere the struggles and trials of those we minister to.  We can be a listening ear, stay near and offer blessings and balms of spiritual healing.  We can be an angel and lead others to those in need, stay close always. 

Whatever gifts we choose for the ones we love and the ones we are led to serve, give them the best gift...the gift of you.  Whatever you offer it matters not, just show up, be a light. When service is done in love, it will always be the Best. Gift. Ever. 


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