Monday Morning Devotional

Week of December 17, 2018

“But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.” (Micah 5:2-3)

Micah’s prophetic message concerns both Samaria and Jerusalem. And although the designation “Israel” historically and politically in Micah’s time referred to the northern kingdom, today’s passage is one among many reminders in his prophecy that God’s first and ultimate intention was that there would be one people and one nation under one rule – his own. Just as God instructed Samuel to go to the little town of Bethlehem to look for the next king of Israel, so the Messiah would come forth in that same unexpected place, at an unexpected time, in an unexpected way.

Micah’s prophecy calls us to see the fulfillment of God’s promise in sending Jesus in new and surprising ways and to look where we otherwise might not expect to find God’s greatest Gift. It is somewhat ironic that this season of preparation, which we call Advent, looks forward with hopeful expectation to an unexpected gift that already has been given – a gift that some have rejected or deemed unwanted.

Writing for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Jill Carattini discusses the ethics of regifting which often is a hot discussion at Christmastime and the days following all of the office parties and family gatherings.

“Apparently, there are those who insist that regifting is a tawdry practice, and there are those who have practiced it for years and see no harm. For those who might not be familiar with the concept, Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary offers a helpful definition: To regift is ‘to give an unwanted gift to someone else’ or ‘to give as a gift something one previously received as a gift.’

In any case, two out of three people say they have either regifted or are considering regifting. And while there are no doubt many successful regifters among us, there are also unfortunate stories to show for the less successful, which make the discussion entertaining. Imagine opening the very gift you had given your mother-in-law a year earlier…

So when a colleague of mine referred to Christmas as the ‘season of regifting,’ I was certain he had been the victim of too many unfortunate gift exchanges. Except he wasn’t talking about unwanted scarves or random gift-cards. He was talking about the mysterious gift that is resurrected each Christmas and presented again as if new. Year after year, we reopen the story of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the magi, and the star. ‘God is a regifter,’ he said. The child is the gift.”

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the gift of your Son, our Savior. During this season of Advent, we ask you to renew and enlarge our hearts and minds so that we may find you in unexpected places.