OK quick … what Christmas gifts do you most remember receiving in your childhood? I was thinking about this today … and I basically came up with two big memories. The first was when I got a basketball goal for Christmas … and after putting it up, my Dad and I played a quick game of one-on-one in the driveway. The second was when I received the AT-AT walker from the Empire Strikes Back. Yeah – life was pretty good.
But you know what is wild? Though I received gifts every Christmas growing up, these were the only ones that sprang quickly to my mind. If I thought long enough and hard enough about it, I know I would remember others, but these were the only ones that came to mind quickly.
But as I thought about this, you know what I remembered much more of? Conversations with family. Sitting around the dinner table for way too long, eating way too much, and enjoying every minute of it. Game tournaments with the visiting relatives. These personal moments shared are the memories that have endured the longest. They are what I treasure the most.
I think this is the way it is. Though MUCH is made of the “stuff” we give and get at Christmas, it is the other “gifts” of time and presence and relationship that mean the most. I think this dynamic was also true for Jesus’ mother Mary. Why do I think that?
Well, for starters, Luke’s Gospel contains the most information about Jesus’ birth from Mary’s perspective. Given the detail, I have little doubt that Mary herself was one of the eyewitnesses Luke interviewed when compiling His Gospel … and in it we find out what Mary “treasured” and “pondered” in her heart.
And you know what she didn’t mention? The three gifts of the Magi.
Now, I am not saying that the gifts were not appreciated and celebrated; they almost certainly were – possibly even being sold to fund their life-saving escape to Egypt when Herod sought to kill Jesus and the rest of the infant boys in Bethlehem. What I am saying is that the memories that first sprang to mind in Luke’s Christmas account included three OTHER Christmas gifts. These three “gifts” were not material in nature, but were statements from three lesser known figures in the Christmas account: Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79), Simeon (Luke 2:25-32), and Anna (Luke 2:36-38).
This Sunday morning at Wildwood, we are going to look at these three other “gifts” and then we will explore Isaiah 42:1-9 (a passage written 700 years before the birth of Jesus) to see WHY these gifts were given and why they were so important. We will do this in part 3 of the “Light of the World” sermon series. Make plans to join us in the 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service!
Also, note that this Sunday our children will be singing in the services at the end of the 9:45 and 11:00 services. We LOVE this Sunday each year. Make plans to be with us December 10 … and bring friends!