JOY AND REJOICING - December 15, 2022
Thurssday, December 15th
Advent Devotional #19 written by Pastor Shawn Thornton
JOY AND REJOICING
Americans spend about 2.6 billion dollars on wrapping paper every year for Christmas. That’s a lot. We can attribute today’s wrapping paper to the Hallmark company and two brothers. The Hall brothers were already selling greeting cards in the early 1900s in their store in Kansas City, Missouri.
The Hall brothers also sold printed tissue paper, which people would use to wrap presents. Unfortunately, the brothers ran out of tissue paper amid the season’s busyness. So they decided to use the fancy paper they currently used to line the insides of their envelopes. People loved it. Two years later, Hallmark was selling printed wrapping paper.
There’s something about a beautifully wrapped present. It’s the anticipation of good to come. Even as adults, we still get excited about opening a wrapped gift. That’s why we spend so much money and time every year buying wrapping paper and wrapping presents for those we love.
When the angel appeared to the shepherds all those years ago, they told the shepherds of God’s gift to the world—his Son. However, this gift was wrapped differently than regular gifts. It wasn’t covered in fancy paper or expensive cloth. Instead, this gift was wrapped in strips of cloth.
When the angel told the shepherds they would find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, they would have understood and had an immediate connection. When a sheep was born, they would take the newborn and wrap it in swaddling clothes to keep it protected and from getting blemished. Some biblical scholars believe the shepherds were overseeing “levitical” flocks of sheep to be used for temple sacrifice. These sheep, in particular, were to be kept unblemished.
In those days, people would buy “unblemished sheep” for sacrifices. It was the shepherd’s job to keep the sheep protected and free of any visible defect so that when the time came, they could take those sheep to the temple and sell them for sacrifice. So when the angel used the term “swaddling cloths,” the angel spoke the shepherd’s language. It gave them an immediate connection to baby Jesus.
The gift that God gave us all those years ago still provides for us today. That baby wouldn’t stay a baby but would grow up to give his life for the sins of the world. So now we have the gift of salvation because of the baby born in Bethlehem. Paul describes Jesus’ sacrifice this way, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! “(2 Corinthians 9:15).
This year when you spend time wrapping presents for those you love. Think about that gift given to us so many years ago wrapped in a different kind of covering – swaddling cloths.
Today Pray: Father, Thank you for the gift you gave us 2,000 years ago. Thank you for loving us enough to send your only son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen