What's Your Best Gift?

This past week, we just concluded the season on the Christian calendar referred to as Twelfthtide or the 12 Days of Christmas. One of our pastors reminded us on Sunday, New Years Eve, that technically, Christmas was not yet over! I suspect that he had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he addressed primarily the youth and children and suggested that they could still take advantage of this in the remaining days leading up to Epiphany on January 6th!😉

 "This was marked down and
I couldn't pass it up!" Marc texted.

What was your favorite gift of the Christmas season? What gift did you give to another that received a special response? I doubt that it was a fruitcake! Am I right? Just a few days ago, I received a picture and text from our good-humored son, Marc. He was weighing in after Christmas as to why he was able to just now purchase a discounted fruitcake at the local Texas HEB grocery store. I teased him by responding, “You do know why it was discounted, don’t you?!”   

Marc is the son who was present on a Sunday evening later in the month of December when his Pastor and dad (Moi!), would bring the notorious, if not widely anticipated, annual “Fruitcake Update” to the congregation. This was usually dramatized in a comedy skit that was my way of poking fun at the infamous, rubberized, and infused candied fruit holiday cake. I always played to the few fans that took exception to my antics. But they knew that many of us just don’t particularly care for fruitcake even though over the years we have received several beautiful and collectible tins packed with “The World’s Best!” It was for me the gift that keeps on giving!

During those farcical episodes, that often involved the church staff, I’d try to drive home the point! On one memorable occasion, a mock scientist, dressed in his professional whitecoat with a pocketful of pens, was interviewed on late-night television. He was an archaeologist who had just discovered fruitcake fragments in the throat of a fossilized dinosaur. This was solid (pun intended!) evidence for him to hypothesize how this prehistoric species became extinct!

In another episode, a Rod Taylor character tried unsuccessfully to send a fruitcake by a Time Machine into another reality. The time traveler had hoped to put it so far out of this world that it would never be used to trouble another palate forever! However, this failed experiment further proved the enduring character of the cake and why many believe there is really only one fruitcake in the world that keeps getting passed around from one victim to another!

The Bible story tells about how the Magi came sometime after Jesus’ birth. Traditionally, they arrived on the twelfth day after Mary gave birth to her firstborn Son. This has been referred to as Three Kings Day. Many of today’s scholars tend to see this differently. They speculate that Jesus was not a newborn but may have been around two years old at the time. This would mean that the toddler Jesus was still residing in a house in Bethlehem with his parents, Mary, and Joseph, when the young family received these special visitors from afar bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Throughout history, these noble Magi have inspired us to give our best gifts to the Lord.

As a teenager with my peers, during Sunday evening worship, I enjoyed singing the stirring hymn by Howard Gross, Give of Your Best to the Master. The first stanza speaks of youth. vigor, and commitment: Give of your best to the Master; give of the strength of your youth; throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor into the battle for truth. Jesus has set the example, dauntless was He, young and brave; give Him your loyal devotion, give Him the best that you have.” 

We could have a lengthy discussion about what constitutes the best gift to represent our devotion and in response to God’s greatest gift of His Son to the world! In the vision that’s recorded in Isaiah 6, the prophet of God saw some celestial beings and heard their great response of praise, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory!” Immediately, God’s prophet found himself in a confessional dialog with the awesome God. He acknowledged, “Woe is me! I am a sinner!” The Lord inquired, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”  The prophet made the right response and showed his obedience, “Here am I! Send me!” Then God commissioned Isaiah to service, “Go and tell this people!” (paraphrased, Isaiah 6:1-10).

 

Some hear and obey. Some do not. This is the time of year when many think about change or at least about making some incremental changes for the better. Your best gift to the Lord is to give your wholehearted devotion to Him. Let’s give our best to the Master!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.

Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

 

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