The Essence of a Gift

To give gifts, or not to give's a question we have both pondered at one point at Christmas time. Sometimes we feel that it takes away from the celebration of Jesus' birth and we don't like the focus on materialism. In America, we are supposed to tell Santa what WE want for Christmas....what's up with that? I know, it's because we tell the little children that he is the one who will bring presents. I really think it's neat that here in Hungary the children don't ask that question but have to sing and recite something for Mikulash (St. Nick). It's the angels or baby Jesus who brings presents. Different ideas, but gift giving is a real part of celebrations no matter what the culture.

In our house Christmas gifts are kept to a minimum. Our children are allowed to choose one inexpensive toy from the store for their Christmas gift, and that's the extent of their presents. We then let them choose what gift they wanted to give through Gospel for Asia. We really had a great time buying chickens and goats for families in South Asia, and each child felt as though they had a part in helping another family across the world. We enjoy delivering cookies and breads to our neighbors, and have been delighted at how the neighbors come knocking on our door with a small gift in return. The giving is one way to demonstrate our love in a tangible way.

Like it or not, gift giving is a part of every culture, at all times during the year. And once again, I have been reminded of the significance of gifts. This year I received a bar of homemade soap from a dear Hungarian friend. It was only soap, but it felt like gold because I know her heart. I felt honored - as though my friendship with her was of great worth. I didn't know that I needed to be reminded that I was special to someone. As the Hungarians gave gifts to us, I realized that we have been accepted into their circle, and that is affirmation of God's purposes in bringing us here.

The Wise Men's gifts were an amazing gesture of honor to the Savior. They just could not come empty handed. They came with gifts that were more than just gifts. It was proof of their acknowledgment of the Savior, proof that certainly blessed the heart of Mary and Joseph. The biblical examples of giving are abundant....the widow giving her mite in the temple, the Philippian church giving to Paul, Christ, giving his life for us....and they are concrete evidences of LOVE.

Thank you to everyone who gave to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. We live and work here in Hungary because of your gifts!
Thank you for the tangible way you express your love for Jesus. It's not just a gift, it's the message inside the gift.

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