Monday Morning Devotion-December 5, 2022
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given….And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah. 9:6
When I headed to Ellee’s bedroom this morning (December 1st) to wake her for school
she came running out. That was a shock---in itself---because it usually takes something like a bulldozer to get our granddaughter up on a school day, weekends are different.
As soon as she saw me Ellee said: “Papa, did the Elf come?” Then I remembered that it was December 1st and Santa’s Elf (Buddy) starts his daily visits on that date and comes down from the North Pole to observe Ellee’s behavior and report back to his boss, Santa Claus. For as everyone knows only good boys and girls get what they want for Christmas and that’s how Santa gets that information. The Elf continues his daily visits until Christmas Eve.
Most people refer to him as the Elf on the Shelf because that’s where he shows up each day, in a different place, usually on a shelf or someplace similar and waits to be discovered. Today Buddy was not on a shelf but was sitting on the branches of our Christmas tree.
The Elf on the Shelf tradition started back in 2005 with a self-published book by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell called the “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.” Bell says: “The elf will watch us during the day, report to Santa at night, and in the morning before kids wake up, elf flies back from the North Pole and lands on a different spot in the house. The elf moves around the house to a different location each day and bring lots of joy and fun.
However, the elves cannot speak to humans and touching them is a no-no . Bell said: “They cannot be touched by humans, it’s like kryptonite. They’ll lose their Christmas magic, it’s very bad for them” (The News with Shepard Smith, CNBC, Dec. 18, 2020)
Yes, there are all sorts of traditions that have sprung up around Christmas. But we know where the real Christmas celebration got it’s start. It started in Bethlehem, a city in the Holy Land 10 km (appox. 6 miles south of Jerusalem) the birthplace of Jesus.
Just like Ellee was on the lookout for the Elf to come, in today’s scripture Isaiah told the people that Jesus would be coming. The one who would be coming is the one who all this celebration, gift giving, package wrapping, songs of Christmas, and holiday parties was promised. Yes, that One. The One it’s all about.
Isaiah, the prophet told them: For to us a child is born, to us this son is given. Yes, this son would be born but he would be given as a gift to all of us. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace. Now that’s quite a gift package.
This promise from God that Isaiah was revealing was prophesied 700 years before Christ was born. And the story doesn’t end with just a promise. We have the New Testament to verify that God always keeps His Promises, and this was a big one. You see, the one that Isaiah was reporting on in advance was special because Isaiah also said: And the government will rest on his shoulders. Now is that a heavy burden to start out a baby’s life with? Long before he was ever born the responsibilities were piling up.
Because of this promise that the Prophet Isaiah referred to we have received the greatest gift of all. When we break out the Christmas Tree (ours is artificial and already has the lights on it) or if you go pick out and buy a tree from a store, or even if you are a hearty soul and go tromping through the woods and find a tree to cut down and haul back to your living room you are following that tradition that Isaiah was talking about. It all started with a baby.
When the baby Jesus was born the gift-giving Christmas celebration began. It didn’t take long before this baby, who was a gift to all mankind, started receiving gifts.
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea…about that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Judea having followed the star…It appeared guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star , they were filled with joy. They entered where the child and his Mother Mary were and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:1. 9-11 (LAB)
Thus, the gift-giving idea began. Because the Heavenly Father loves us, He sent his Son as a gift to us all. The promise that Isaiah made to the people on God’s behalf gave them hope and filled them with joy. It is still doing the same for us centuries later.
The Elf on the Shelf will make a promise to Ellee that because she recognizes the importance of being good (especially at Christmas) she will receive gifts on Christmas Day. And on that day, she will be all smiles for the gifts she receives are more than just toys and clothes but they come with a gift of love.
There is no greater gift than the gift of love. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Elf on the Shelf.
Prayer: Our hearts are warmed at Christmas in a special way unlike any other time. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the priceless gift of your Son, Jesus. Amen!