A workplace tradition at Christmas is the practice of assigning each employee the name of another co-worker to be given an anonymous gift. Our office has made our own version of the Secret Santa game: we are to choose a small gift that our co-worker would have loved as a child. Then all the gifts — well wrapped, of course — are opened when we gather for the office Christmas party, to uproarious laughter and guessing who the givers are. The gifts are then donated to a children's Christmas charity. It's always lots of fun, and the tradition is eagerly anticipated each year.
Gift giving is a part of Christmas, established long ago when the Magi brought gifts to Jesus:
Matthew 2:10-11 – When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (ESV)
The gifts were carefully chosen and significant offerings for a king's son. The fragrant spices were integral in worship, in anointing, and in burial, and the gold was paid in tribute to a high king. The Magi were fulfilling Old Testament promises made years earlier:
Psalm 72:10-11 – May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! (ESV)
There is much criticism made each year of the high cost of gift giving, and the eroding of the Christmas message by unbridled consumerism. Yet, receiving a gift thoughtfully chosen and beautifully wrapped brings joy. In the workplace, the annual Secret Santa event captures some of the joy of being together, giving meaningful gifts, and showing generosity to the poor by benefitting a worthy charity.
We ought to heed the Bible's counsel to be good stewards of our income and to give as generously as possible. We can honour the tradition of the Magi in gift giving and worship, and we can be ready to tell others of the significance of the kingly gifts to Jesus which announced His entry into our world. After all, our Father God gave us the greatest gift of all: salvation wrapped in the form of a baby boy, born in a stable to humble parents.
Prayer: Thank You, dear Lord, for the greatest gift, Your own Son Jesus, given for us at great cost and with great love. We thank You for the tradition of gift giving at Christmas, and for the opportunity to worship You with exceedingly great joy, generosity, and fun each year. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Once In Royal David's City" (Lyrics)