High school youth and all the children’s choirs bring the Nativity to life in a grand musical pageant, with gifts distributed to our partners in Yonkers.
And why is it called the White Gift Service? The following article by Elder Dale Walker, which originally ran in the December 2014 issue of The Messenger newsletter, explains it all...
The White Gift Service: Its History at RCB and Beyond
As a child in the RCB choir program, I vividly recall the excitement leading up to the annual White Gift Service. Traditional songs telling the Nativity story, the long Saturday morning dress rehearsal, the beautiful lullaby sung by Mary, the enthusiastic "March of the Kings" and the smell of incense – all these touchstone moments bring a smile to my face, but my heart really begins to smile when the younger children eagerly come to the manger, bearing their gifts to the Christ child.
But why have those gifts always been wrapped in white, ever since Music Director Bill Davis brought this special service to RCB back in 1953?
As a child, I was told it was to prevent any child receiving a gift from feeling theirs was not as pretty or special as another’s that might be beribboned or bedecked in fancy paper. Jealousy has no place in the Christmas story.
But as an adult, I felt surely there must be something beyond that. And there is.
Our White Gift service, a tradition found in many Christian parishes around the world over the past century, has its roots in an ancient Chinese story about a birthday celebration for a beloved ruler. So that all his subjects could give freely according to their means, and each feel equally participatory whatever their social or economic status, word went out that gifts of white would be received. This way, the wealthy might give ivory, pearls, or fine silks, while the less fortunate might bring rice, eggs, chickens or ducks. Thus each gift was special in its own way, yet clearly a cohesive part of a greater plan.
So, too, do we bring our unique gifts to our beloved Christ child, confident that He will find a use for each one to some greater plan. And on one December Sunday afternoon, every year, we bring our gifts wrapped in white as a reminder that no gift given or received in Love will be found lacking.