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Welcome to Pastor David Hatch's blog.
Matthew 2 : 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
As soon as 1st November arrives, we are bombarded with all the new Christmas adverts. Our initial reaction is usually to sigh, and say, “Oh no, Christmas already!” and then start to think of all the gift ideas that are still to be sorted out.
But this year, the early Christmas advert for John Lewis stores caught my attention. Indeed, this rather clever advert has grabbed the attention of many people. It’s a backwards look at the life and talent of Elton John, and towards the end shows a small toddler running downstairs to find a wrapped-up piano as his gift for Christmas. The caption, “Some gifts are more than just a gift!” The advert then closes with the child gently pressing his first keys, and then Elton John today, from behind, closing the lid on the piano.
Maybe it grabbed your attention like it did me? There may well be Christmas gifts that you have given, or maybe received, that on looking back over the years, turned out to be more than just a gift. It certainly got me thinking! Sadly for John Lewis, the advert hasn’t made me visit their website to see how much pianos are – it’s a bit late now anyway….. but the question I’d like to ask you to think about this Christmas is this:
What gift have you received that is more than just a gift?
The wise men came to the house bearing gifts – gold, incense and myrrh. Generous gifts, each with its own meaning as to the life and death of this little child. Gold is a precious metal and was a very valuable gift. Its value could well have paid for the trip to Egypt that would be imminent. But Gold is a symbol of divinity and is mentioned throughout the Bible. The gift of Gold to the Jesus was symbolic of His divinity – God in flesh. Frankincense, (or incense in the NIV) is a white resin or gum. It is obtained from a tree by making cuts in the bark and allowing the gum to flow out. It is highly fragrant when burned and was therefore used in worship, where it was burned as pleasant offering to God. (Ex 30:34) Frankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. As a gift to Jesus, it was symbolic of His willingness to become a sacrifice for sin, giving Himself as an offering to God. Myrrh was also obtained from a tree in the same way. It was a spice and was used in embalming. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to make a drink. Such a drink was given to Jesus when He was dying on the cross. Myrrh symbolizes bitterness, suffering and affliction. The baby Jesus would soon grow to suffer many things as a man and would pay the ultimate price when He gave His life on the cross for all who would believe in Him and put their faith and trust in Him.
Some gifts are more than just a gift! But what about the gift of salvation. God gave Jesus as the most precious gift that was, or ever will be given. What have you done with such a gift?
If Elton John had ignored the piano, just tinkled around with it now and again when he was bored, or plonked himself in front of it when his parents got all upset about “how much they’d paid for it, and he hasn’t looked at it for weeks……” Of course, shockingly, the gift he carried, and the gift that was given, could well have been wasted.
So, what about the gift that you carry – we all have one. That’s the wonder of God in our design and creation. We all have gifts and talents that are to be used. We are indeed “fearfully, and wonderfully made…..” without doubt. And the warning that Jesus gave about not using the gift God has given us is stark – “use it or lose it!”
Let’s think again this Christmas about the gift of God to a sin sick world – Jesus, the Saviour is Born. But also, carefully consider what gift (which is more than a gift) God gave you – and what are you doing with it? Remember what a tragedy it would be if at the end of life, on looking back you hadn’t used it!
Happy Christmas. Ps. David