On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Thinking about the magi, contemplating their journey to Bethlehem and their homage to Jesus, I was reminded again of the sacred nature of giving, and indeed how it is a holy thing. This is borne witness by the fact that upon giving the gift, it is the giver who is made whole, the giver who feels blessed, the giver who understands that in having given, their life is enlarged.
I expect that the magi, filled with joy at having found Jesus could not wait to open their treasure chests and offer their gifts. It is, according to Matthew the very first thing they did when the saw Mary with the child. It is an amazing thing that their hearts were guided to not only make their journey to Bethlehem but also to share their gifts.
Giving creates connection and commitment. Our giving connects us in both physical and spiritual ways. As scripture says, we earn our living by the sweat of our brow, and most of our earnings are used in transactional ways. But in giving without expectation of a return, we become just a little more like Jesus, the one who emptied himself, became flesh and who gave even his life for us. In giving, I believe we come to understand more like deeply what God’s grace is like.
In the Christmas Carol, “In the Bleak Midwinter,” Christina Rosetti contemplates her life in relation to Jesus,
“What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb; If I were a wiseman I would do my part; Yet what can I give him – give my heart.”
As we receive the Christ child, we, like the magi and the shepherds, are honored with the opportunity to give, and by our own giving somehow acknowledge what God has done in the Incarnation to imitate in the most gracious way we can God giving us his own Son.
Here at Trinity, we have been blessed time and again. It is as if God cannot stop giving us gifts! Time and again, God has motivated people to support Trinity’s mission, our programs are blessed with renewed growth, and the Gospel is proclaimed. We are blessed with fellowship, friendship, and love. We are given myriad opportunities to worship and to serve; to gift ourselves to others.
As a new year has begun with the season of Advent, and as we look forward to Christmas, I hope you will experience again the connection made by the magi and the shepherd: the connection between our hearts and our treasure, which comes in giving. This is a joy that comes in giving with no expectation of return, only the knowledge that you have shared something of yourself, something of value, with the one who came among us to give to us a place in the kingdom of Heaven.
On behalf of Pastor Marty, our Congregation Council, and ministry staff, I want to extend to you our hopes and prayers that you may have a very blessed Christmas celebration.
Yours in Christ,