A Gift Of Love
The giving and receiving of gifts has become a spiritual and cultural fixture of the Nativity preparatory season. Highlighting God's love for us is a richly endowed response to his graciously bestowed love upon mankind. Some have to be careful we are not overwhelmed by the details of gift-giving. But such was not the loving concern of Joachim and Anna, the richly blessed parents of the Birthgiver of God. Recognizing heaven's blessing upon them, they wanted to return God's overtly manifested love. They returned to the service of God their only daughter!
If we are careful during this holy time, gift-giving can become an occasion to reflect on the true and lasting spiritual gifts we are all recipients of. The Nativity of our Lord is a festival of God's manifest love for creation, particularly choice creation in man. Revealed in the birth of the Son of God in the flesh, ultimately the only gifts that last are the gifts of love symbolized by God's giving of Jesus to us and anticipated in the gift of their child to temple service by Joachim and Anna.
The greatest gift from God is the gift of life. The greatest sin of human beings it would seem is to return that gift ungratefully and unopened. Joachim and Anna would not be guilty of this falling prey to this devil's deception. The life they so ardently desired, the gift of a child; the gift they so anticipated and treasured would be invested in God's glory. What He bestowed upon them, they would graciously return. They would invest human life, the life of their beloved daughter in heaven's treasure, the very presence of his glory at the Temple of Jerusalem.
This feast also reminds us of the need to see, to nurture and use as well as appreciate the many spiritual and myriad gifts our heavenly Father has lavished upon us - particularly the coming in the flesh of his only-begotten Son - which we in turn are to celebrate for the benefit of our souls and bodies.
We are continually reminded of the affirmation of our individual worth before the throne of God of which Joachim and Anna were always aware. As a result, the unique gift they received in their old age was accepted in the spirit it was given; a grace from heaven and a blessing of the eternal Father. The grandparents of the Lord were eager to celebrate their blessing, to share with us as disciples of Christ their giftedness. They opened their gift package of eternal life and divide it among us who follow the Lord.