The Joy of Christmas Music: Gifts

The Joy of Christmas Music:  Gifts

“What Gifts Can I Bring?”

The Magi Visit the Messiah

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

This Advent season has had me immersed in the Christmas story and in the Songs of Christmas.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the sermon series at church is “Come and Sing”, celebrating and teaching from the songs in Scripture.  The Advent study I chose to do again this year is The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Love Story of Christmas, by Ann Voskamp.

Shopping for the many gifts needed for my large family has also had me “immersed” in gifts!  I truly love picking out gifts for my loved ones.  I enjoy thinking about them and imagining what they will like or IF they will like the gifts I chose.  Even though I get the lists of what they want, I tend to go off the grid for a few items!

However, scriptures, the study I am doing, and many songs has me focusing on the word “gifts” in a different sense.  So many of the stories down through the years, beginning with the story of the Magi, do not emphasize the gifts we give to each other and receive from each other.  The emphasis is on the gifts given to the Christ child . . . the baby in the manger!

One book I used to read to my students every year was Why the Chimes Rang.  An old folk tale about a large cathedral in medieval times whose Christmas Chimes had been silent for many years, due to the greed and selfishness of the towns people.  One cold Christmas Eve this changes when a small boy, Pedro, makes his way to the Christmas Eve Services and a miracle happens.   Read the story and be moved by a tender, humble gift given to the Christ child. (Why the Chimes Rang – Christmas Stories)

Another one of my favorites lay in the stack of children’s Christmas books on my coffee table. The Legend of the Poinsettia, by Tomie dePaola.   It was wonderfully written with delightful pictures – as are most Tomie dePaola books.  I grabbed it to read during my study time and truly paused for some serious reflecting on the place “gifts” holds in my life.  Do I focus on what gift I bring to Jesus or what gifts I shop for to give to others?

Here is a synopsis:

The Legend of the Poinsettia

A charming story is told of Pepita, a poor Mexican girl who had no gift topresent the Christ Child at Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked slowly to the chapel with her cousin Pedro, her heart was filled with sadness rather than joy.

“I’m sure, Pepita, that even the most humble gift, if given in love, will beacceptable in His eyes,” said Pedro consolingly.

Not knowing what to do, Pepita knelt by the roadside and gathered ahandful of common weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet.

Looking at the scraggly bunch of weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the humbleness of her offering.

As she approached the altar, she remembered Pedro’s kind words: “Even

the humblest gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes.” She felther spirit lift as she knelt to lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into blooms of brilliant red, and all who saw them were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle right before their eyes.

From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the Flores deNoche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, for they bloomed each year during the Christmas season.  Today, the common name for this plant is the poinsettia!

“What gifts can I give Him?”

I always knew that poinsettias were special, but I had forgotten the legend-that a gift given in love and humility became a miracle that points us each year to the Christ Child.   Jesus can still take the “weeds” of our lives and transform them into beauty and blessing when we humbly place them in His hands.

That morning my Christmas song of choice was “The Little Drummer Boy”, a well-loved song that reminds us of the simple gift of a boy who lovingly gave Jesus all he had.   The song is about finding the proper gift to bring before the newborn King!  The you boy plays a song for him on his drum-a gift of love fit for a King.  In the song, the baby gives back to the boy a smile.  A smile speaking of a humbly given gift received in love.

Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In the scripture reading, the Magi present the King of Kings with gifts fit for a king – the future king of Israel, so the Magi were led to believe from their studies, and the reason they followed a star.  Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Gold is the standard by which everything else is judged and most definitely a gift fit for a King.

Frankincense was a gift of worship-used to worship a King.  The Magi fell to their knees and worshiped Jesus-reminiscent of Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  They had studied the scriptures and maybe these words were singing in their hearts as they knelt!

Then there was myrrh-a spice used for embalming the dead.  Not exactly a gift for an earthy king, but for the King of Kings, who would be the greatest sacrifice of all time-it was an appropriate gift.

Maybe the greatest lesson in all these stories is that the characters knew what would bring glory and honor to Jesus.  Pepita, Pedro and the Drummer boy knew a kind, humble and loving heart would be acceptable.  The three gifts of the Wise Men acknowledged Jesus as King of Kings and Lords of Lords, our great High Priest worthy of our worship, and finally Jesus as our Sacrificial Lamb.

What gift can I bring to the Christ?  My heart, my love, my surrendered will, my hands to serve, my lips to praise, my work to serve, my ears to hear the cry of those in need and my resources to give away?

Romans 12:1 (The Message) says it better than I can.  So, here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. 

Lord Jesus, I want this to be my gift to you-Christmas and everyday-myself.

“What gift can I give Him?  Give Him my heart”





Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top