Today I set the Santa Christmas plate in its holder above the kitchen sink. Seems like it was only yesterday that I did this, or was it a lifetime ago? A lot happens in a year, even if the time does pass in the blink of an eye, like the melting of the morning mist or the fading of the light at sunset. Nevertheless, unpacking Christmas decorations is like reconnecting with old, familiar friends. It is good to see them again and they come with many memories attached.
This particular Santa plate is no exception. It was purchased on the occasion of my oldest daughter’s first Christmas for a very special purpose – it is the plate upon which we placed cookies for Santa Claus, which we leave by the fireplace, awaiting his late night arrival. The plate is no longer needed for that very important purpose, so now it is a decoration – complete with memories of Christmases past.
Growing up, my sisters and I took great care in choosing which treats would be left out for Santa Claus by the fireplace. Santa was important, we wanted to leave him what we thought to be the best of the sweet treats. Nothing less would do. We also wanted to be sure the fire was out before we went to sleep, fearing that Santa wouldn’t come down the chimney if there was a roaring fire waiting for him. (guess we thought Santa’s magic only extended so far – he could handle round the world travel in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, but not fire – after all, Santa’s only human)
I wonder if the three Kings spent as much time agonizing over what gifts they would bring to baby Jesus as my sisters and I did in deciding which cookies would make the final cut and end up on Santa’s plate? I wonder if we gave any thought to what gifts we might give to Jesus? It is His birthday, after all, not Santa’s. But what do you give to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Creator of the universe? The cattle on a thousand hills are His – what could I give to Him? Psalm 51:17 tells me,
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
Micah 6:8 and Hosea 6:6 also help me understand what gifts I could give to Jesus and His Father, God –
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Seems like Jesus wants my heart. There is no substitute gift that will do. My favorite Christmas story, “The Littlest Angel”, deals with this age old gift giving dilemma. In this story, a very young boy angel needs a gift for Jesus because the angels in heaven are celebrating Christmas, which is Jesus’s birthday, by giving Jesus gifts. The other gifts are all so splendid. But the littlest angel has nothing but a rough box full of his earthly treasures, all he has left to remind him of his short life on earth. At last, the littlest angel decides to part with his treasure box and present it to Jesus. It is not splendid and extravagant like all the other gifts assembled there. But God not only accepted but praised the littlest angel’s gift, because he had parted with his dearest treasure, he had given from his heart. He had indeed given Jesus his heart.
I so identify with the littlest angel. What could I possibly give to God this Advent season? I have nothing of value to offer – or am I judging by the world’s standard of value rather than by God’s standard? Romans 12:1 instructs me –
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”
I don’t have gold, frankincense or myrrh to give, like the three Kings did on that first Christmas. But God doesn’t want those things, He wants my heart – so I had better be getting my heart ready now, in this season of Advent – ready to receive Him – ready to give Him all of it, full access. Let every heart prepare Him room!
“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)
give Jesus the gift of letting Him in this Advent season! He is the King of glory!
sincerely, Grace Day