Christmas Memories – Advent Devotion
December 26, 2020
“Even babies receive gifts.”
(A Preface to this devotion: This is my final Christmas Memories Advent Devotion. Whether you read all 30 of them, or just a few, I pray you learned something, about making memories with family, and the love of God, His Grace, and His Son Jesus Christ. Joe G)
It was December of 1988. Our daughter Heather had been born in April of that year, and now she was eight months old.
At eight months, children don’t have much of an idea of what is going on around them. But children do respond to stimuli, and they do know when there is affection being shown to them.
It was just a few days before Christmas, and our friends, Fred and Sue, who lived two doors down from us, came over to our house to drop off a Christmas gift for our daughter Heather.
I remember all of us sitting on the floor of our living room (that was back when I could still get down on the floor and get back us without assistance 😊). We helped Heather open her gift. As you can see in the picture above, it was a Big Bird doll.
This was no ordinary doll, though; it had a spot in the back where you inserted “cassette tapes.” If you don’t know what a cassette tape is, Google it😊!
When inserted, the tape played a story about Big Bird, and the doll’s beak opened and closed as if it were telling the story.
Heather was totally fascinated by the doll and the stories. She spent many hours over the next several months playing with and listening to the doll tell stories.
Almost all babies receive gifts of one sort or another, but 2000 years ago there was a very special baby who received some very special gifts.
“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.'”
Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
After this interview, the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.
When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.”
You’ll notice the scripture above says that the wise men, “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary.”
No, they did not stop at the stable the night Jesus was born. It is believed that the wise men (Or Magi) arrived several months after the birth of Jesus.
Wait, no cause to sound an alarm and pull the wise men figurines from your manger story! They are an intricate part of the birth of Jesus. These words from the Gospel of Matthew are chronologically one of the next things in Jesus’ life, as read in the scriptures.
These wise men traveled a great distance to worship the promised King (that they had read about in their writings) and bring Him gifts.
The wise men entered the house; they bowed down, worshipped the baby, and presented three gifts. Gifts fit for a King, Gold, Frankincense, an expensive herb burned in the temple during prayer, and Myrrh also an incense used as anointing oil. It was also used for embalming. (It has long been thought that the Myrrh was a premonition of the sacrifice Jesus would face as an adult).
By now, Christmas day is over. Gifts have been exchanged, and perhaps some have already been returned. The present of Big Bird given to my daughter at Christmas eventually broke and was discarded. The gifts the wise men brought were used up. The gold was spent, the frankincense was burned, and the Myrrh was used as anointing oil.
But, the gift of Jesus remains. He doesn’t get old, He doesn’t wear out, and He is always with us. No more of a generous gift has ever been given than the Son of God’s sacrifice for mankind.