How we reenact the Nativity each year at Christmastime without even realizing it.
“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” –Luke 2:8-14
On that day, whether it was December 25th, or some other day, God gave us the gift of himself. He gave us our savior, our Messiah. This event was so sacred, so special, that His angels sang for joy about Jesus’ birth. He did it, because he favors us, his children. This gift of His only begotten son also gave us a gift– that of salvation.
As children, we make Christmas about getting gifts. We unknowingly, reenact in a way, the anticipation of His people on that first Christmas day of a Messiah who would come to free God’s people, His favored. As we get older and mature, we come to know the joy of giving. We come to identify with God’s part in this nativity drama, the giving part. Giving gifts then, is how we in our own small way, emulate His part in the story. We continue to love to receive gifts, to be sure, but we also learn the joy of giving. This is not insignificant; for in giving gifts, we make ourselves more like the Father. We create a cycle of joy, of simultaneous giving and receiving.
We learn, if we are wise, that we should give of ourselves, give our love to others. We also, like the shepherds in the fields and their people, anticipate His coming, and sing out with joy as the angles did, when we feel his presence among us. So, in life’s Nativity play, we at times play the parts of the Shepherds, the Angels, and of our Father. Our tradition of gift-giving, receiving, and rejoicing over the whole thing is the value of the Christmas season. The hope is, that we continue reenacting the Nativity play, perpetuating the cycle of giving, receiving, and rejoicing continuously, in various ways, throughout the year.