At a staff meeting a few weeks ago, we were discussing the tag sale at the manse and our music director, Ed Schmeidecke, shared the story behind the term “white elephant.”
Most people are familiar with the expression "white elephant." It refers to something that is expensive but is no longer useful to us. "White elephant" comes from the way that the king of Siam once got revenge on people. He did so by sending them a white elephant as a gift. At the time, white elephants were considered to be sacred, so they could not be made to do any work. And since the animal was a gift from the king, it would be a severe insult to return the elephant. So the recipient of the white elephant was stuck with the burden of feeding and housing that otherwise useless beast.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, church bazaars held “white elephant sales” where people could unload unwanted items, earning money from the phenomenon that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
I admit I have attended and even hosted “white elephant” Christmas parties. It’s a gift exchange where everyone brings a wrapped gift they no longer want and in the end goes home with another gift they did not want or need.
As Christians, we can be grateful God did not give us a useless “white elephant gift”! God gave us the ultimate gift, who carries all our burdens. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And the Son, Jesus Christ, gives gifts too, of Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love.
Join us each Sunday in Advent as we rejoice in these gifts, and come let us Worship the Greatest Gift of All on Christmas Eve at 5:30 PM Children’s Pageant, 7:30 PM Candlelight Service and 10:00 AM on Christmas Day!
Joan Davies & the Transition Team