One of my favorite Christmas carols by far is “Star in the East” or “Shepherd’s Star”, a hauntingly beautiful Sacred Harp tune perfect for this time of year. It’s the birth of the Savior from the perspective of the shepherds. In the lyrics it lists the gifts the faithful are happy to give the newborn King, and then gives this observation:
Vainly we offer each ample oblation;
Vainly with gold we his favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration;
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.
We give gifts to those we care about – gifts of things or time – as a symbol of our caring. The greatest gift of all is the heart.