December 20, 2020 PM
(Originally preached & recorded on December 11, 2016 AM)
Dr. Michael Catt
The Gifts of Christmas
I. THE TRADITION OF GIVING GIFTS AT CHRISTMAS
GOLD: We know that gold is one of the most expensive things you can buy. At the time of Christ, a gift of gold meant the person receiving the gift was of high standing.
INCENSE: Incense was a symbol of worship, implying they knew this Child was central to God's plan. At the time of the birth of Christ, the frankincense tree was considered sacred, and only the pure in heart and mind were allowed to come near it.
MYRRH: Myrrh was a rare and costly resin used in burial ceremonies. This was the most unique gift from the Wise Men.
SO HOW DID THIS PRACTICE OF GIVING GIFTS TO THE CHRIST-CHILD BECOME A TRADITION AROUND THE WORLD?
Even before Jesus was born, the Romans exchanged gifts during their winter holidays, believing their generosity would bring them good fortune.
In the 4th century, December 25th was designated as the day to remember Christ's birth. As Christians began to celebrate this day, gift giving was almost abandoned.
The legend of St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra in the 4th century, is the next link in the Christmas gift chain. Legend says that during his life this priest rode across Asia Minor giving gifts to poor children.
In the 10th century, Bohemian duke, King Wenceslas, was inspired by the Wise Men to roam his kingdom during the holidays and give firewood, food, and clothing to his people.
At the time of Martin Luther, the idea of secretly giving gifts to friends and loved ones became popular.
The Puritans discouraged giving gifts to children. They reasoned that God didn't want Christmas to be a time of giving to anyone but Jesus. Therefore, they didn't celebrate Christmas; rather, the day was for solemn reflection.
In the 1820s when the poem "The Night Before Christmas" was written, everything changed. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol gave even more validity to the concept of gift giving.
II. THE GREATEST GIFT EVER GIVEN
A) WONDERFUL COUNSELOR
B) THE MIGHTY GOD
Jesus is our source of power:
C) EVERLASTING FATHER
D) PRINCE OF PEACE