One year, we were with family members when we learned that there were going to be some unexpected-to-us people at the house on Christmas morning, the time when we open gifts. And, so I did something I had never done before – I went Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve at a gas station. It was a challenging task. Think about the options: world atlas, beef jerky, playing cards, tacky t-shirts, coffee mugs….well, you get the point. Let’s just say that the some of the gifts that we gave that year were really creative.
One of my favorite gatherings at our church was a “gently used” gift exchange. We all brought items that were nice, new or nearly new, and that we didn’t want or didn’t need. I brought some beautiful towels that we had gotten as a wedding gift but had never used. They just didn’t match anything else we had and we had plenty of other towels.
I put a ribbon around the towel set and put them on the table set up for the gifts. I looked at the other items – it was a wonderful display. There was a pair of shoes that had been worn once or twice, but looked like they would fit me. Someone else brought a bottle of cologne with a scent that caused her husband to sneeze. What a wonderful idea, to share things from our lives that just didn’t fit us but were great items for someone else. It was a wonderful time of “regifting.”
It’s sad that I haven’t always given my best when it came to gift giving. And the Magi didn’t do so well either. I mean, gold, frankincense and myrrh to a newborn? But, they did not know that they were coming to see a child; they were coming to see the King. Oh, the gifts that the Magi brought were a little odd, perhaps like something we get bought at a gas station or something we know has been “regifted”, but the gift that the Magi received was eternal. The Magi got to meet the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I have always wondered how their lives were lived afterwards. Did they continue to “follow the star?”
I have too often whined about what I thought God expected of me. Why on earth does the God of all heaven want my tithe, my time, or my labor? And, then I realize that the gifts I bring are only good gifts if they are given with love. And, what I have received in return is nothing like anything I have ever imagined. The gifts God continually gives to me are amazing: love that I do not deserve, peace in times of struggle, joy during heart ache, rest in the storm, joy unspeakable, and so much more.
It’s time for me to pray another “thank you” note!
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
“When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
“Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” (Matthew 2:1-12)