Giving is just fun, it is joyful. Today our church opened a Holiday Free Store at a nearby school where many of the children might not get gifts at Christmas. Our entire congregation has been bringing toys and crafts and games for the past three weeks and today we laid them all out on tables. The children came in class by class and picked out one small gift and one larger gift and a book, then put it all in a special reusable holiday bag. It was so fun to watch the children come in and see the toys for the first time. They selected carefully and for the most part, quietly; they were grateful and they were kind to each other. The little boy who wanted the Magic Box saw that his friend wanted that too. He came and quietly told me to give it to her, he would find something else. (Luckily we had another Magic Box under the table or I might have had to race out and find one….) The gift of giving comes from The Wise Men who brought gifts to the baby more:

Yes, the giving of gifts is a gift and I am grateful to the Wise Men for kicking it off.  They brought the first gifts to Jesus,  gold frankincense and myrrh.   In “Light of the World”,  Amy-Jill Levine tells the story of a cartoon in New Yorker Magazine.   Mary and Joseph are sitting on the floor opening gifts and the caption reads, “oh good, there’s a receipt on the myrrh.”  There is a lot of speculation about what the gifts mean.  “Ireanaeus, the second-century Church Father from Lyon proposed that the gifts had practical purposes: the gold represented Jesus’ royal status; the myrrh was to anoint his corpse and so to show his humanity; the frankincense which was burnt on alters, symbolized his divinity.”  (Light of the Word, Levine)  I’m not sure about the frankincense and myrrh, but I’m guessing that the gold financed the last minute trip to Egypt.  (Joseph is warned in a dream that Herod intends to kill Jesus and he should take his family to Egypt.)

“Mary and Joseph do not say anything to the Magi, or the Magi to them.  The import for Matthew is their presence, indicating the universal rule of this new child, the yielding of all ancient wisdom to him, and the honor he receives from the equivalent of ancient science…. Advised against returning to Herod……’they went back to their own country by another route.’ (Matthew 2:12) They travel out of the text and into legend.” (Light of the World)  

And so the legend continues ….with every stately “king” who will enter the nativity scene this Christmas, with every gift that we give.  I’m grateful for the Wise Men. 

Grace and Peace at Advent


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