The Poverty and Wealth of the Second Day of Christmas

“On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

…a poor man’s gift.


This Christmas, I want to encourage you to give what you can and here’s why:

Regarding the birth story of Jesus, we find in the Lukan account that Jesus was 40 days old when his mom and dad took him to the temple in Jerusalem, 5 miles or so away, to complete her purification and consecrate him to God.

Which is where we read this:

24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Luke 2:24

According to Jewish law, the customary sacrifice for purification after birth was a lamb. But what about the poor, those who couldn’t afford purchasing a lamb?

Thankfully, a provision was made allowing those in poverty to purchase two turtle doves instead.

TC Butler writes, “Unable to offer a lamb, they presented birds as a poor person’s substitute.”

And Mary and Joseph certainly were destitute; she had mentioned that she was “humble”, i.e. poor, in her song to God in chapter one of Luke.

Mary and Joseph gave what they could afford.

Which is entirely countercultural to what we see in America, isn’t it?

So why do stories about extraordinary gifts in dire situations seem to excite our souls?

For example, do you remember the short story called “The Gift of the Magi?” The story is one of a poor couple wanting to get each other presents. The wife gets her long hair cut and uses the money to buy her husband a chain for his pocket watch. The husband, meanwhile, sells his pocket watch in order to buy his wife combs/brushes. The moral of the story is that it’s the thought that counts. In fact, it’s the giving that matters.

Give what you can.

So many people overextend themselves, going into further debt. It causes further strife and anxiety.

And that’s not what Christmas is about, not even on a secular level.

No, instead, in the Christmas story we find a wife and her husband giving the most that they could afford, and it ended up being a display of wealth more than any could imagine.

Giving doesn’t need to involve expense.

Two turtle doves will do just fine.


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