"I Have No Gift to Bring"
- Tuesday, December 05, 2006
“I have no gift to bring, pa-rum-pa-pum-pum…”
--The Little Drummer Boy
It is the first of December and I am pleased as punch, as the saying goes. I have (no kidding) finished my Christmas shopping. Each gift has been wrapped and placed under the lighted and ornament-laden Christmas tree that dominates a corner of our English country living room. Those packages that must be mailed no later than December 15th have been. I have amazed myself and I have stayed firmly within budget (which has stunned my husband).
There is one gift, however, that has him puzzled. It is a Christmas card with his name scripted across the front of the envelope. When I leaned it against another’s gift with the same gingerly touch as I set all the others on the gold tree skirt, he asked, “That’s my gift?”
“Yes,” I answered. “This year you get a Christmas card.”
The perplexed look will — on Christmas Day — be replaced by a look of joy when he sees that I have given him a weekend away. I am taking him (And it’s okay for me to say this, he never reads anything I write!) to my favorite island getaway. Just the two of us. Alone. I am giving him the one thing he wants most from me these days: time.
Poor Little Boy
I am reflective of another era in our joined lives, a time when we hardly had enough money to treat our children at Christmas, much less each other. A time when, if someone gave money as a gift to us, we used it to play Santa. A time when our presents to each other was a “Merry Christmas” kiss.
Most of us have been in this place at one time or another. Sometimes its when we are young and in college or just beginning our adult lives on our own. Other times we’re older and have had a stroke of bad luck. Either way, the season comes upon us and we have “no gift to bring.” The skirt under our Charlie Brown Christmas tree is exposed without a single gift resting upon it. It is at this time that we may be reminded of the poor child in the beloved Christmas tune, “Little Drummer Boy.” Like him — like the baby Jesus and like his parents, Mary and Joseph — we are flat broke.
But — the song says — in spite of his station in life, the boy had heard of the Christ-child’s birth (God the Father’s gift to us). Those who called him to see the baby were bringing gifts. And not just any gifts. Their finest gifts, fit for a King. Though poor and with nothing to bring, the boy was drawn to the place where the baby lay in a manger with his mother close by. When he drew close enough to whisper to the Lord, he declared their common poverty and, almost apologetically, stated that he had no gift to give Him on this momentous day.
Then he remembered. He most certainly did have a gift. He was a talented drummer. He could play a song for Him! But could he? Should he?
Mary said that he could... and that he should. And so he did.
How Did the Moneychangers Get in Here?
Jesus is a grown man. He has ministered for over three years, followed by a twelve men and a great number of Jews. It was to be His last week before His crucifixion (His gift to us) and He entered into the Temple. Being that the time of the Passover was near, those who entered in would need to purchase whatever was needed for the required sacrifices. The moneychangers exchanged coins to be used in the temple, but they charged a high price for the exchange. Those who sold doves for sacrifice did so at premium prices. They abused the impoverished giver and, in the process, they abused even the gifts. Outraged at what the moneychangers were doing, Jesus overturned their tables and drove them out of the temple.
“My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a ‘ den of robbers.’” ~~Matthew 21:13
For Jesus, the gift should not have had such a price tag on it. More important to Him was the giver.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, David wrote in Psalm 40. You do not delight in sacrifice, he says in Psalm 51.
To obey, David’s mentor Samuel said, is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).
From Moneychangers to MasterCard
Our tradition of gift exchange began with the gifts the Magi brought to Jesus after His birth. Because of the monetary value, we’ve somehow transferred this sacrifice on their part and have created a new kind of sacrifice. We stress ourselves out by trying to out-give and, in the process, we over-charge and over-spend. In the end, most of our gifts end up looking more like “any other dove” in the temple.
But what if we were to give ourselves? Our time. Our talents. What if we were to give them to each other?
What if we were to give them to God?
Eva Marie Everson is the coauthor of Reflections of God’s Holy Land: A Personal Journey Through Israel (Thomas Nelson/Nelson Bibles). She is an award-winning author and speaker. To book Eva Marie for your next speaking event, contact The Nashville Speakers Bureau.
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