I. Gifts of the Magi, part 2 (Matthew 2:11-12)
“On entering the house, (the wise men) 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. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.” Matthew 2:11-12
There is a wonderful short story by O. Henry, first published in 1906, called The Gift of the Magi. In it, a desperately poor young couple sells what possession they love the most to be able to buy their spouse a Christmas gift. Ironically and poignantly, each buys the other a gift to be used with the possession they have sold—they sacrificed for each other the greatest treasure of their house. The story ends with these words: “…let it be said that of all who give gifts, these two were the wisest…They are the magi.”
This story has appeared numerous times in popular culture TV and movies (even in a “Rugrats” episode, according to Wikipedia). Its lesson remains: a gift that is given with pure love and joy is most precious.
The wise men gave Jesus things, but also gave their worship, adoration and devotion. These gifts of themselves, particularly that of the devotion that led them away from reporting his location to King Herod, were much more valuable.
As you think about giving more this year, try to think of a gift of yourself that will be treasured by the recipient. For some ideas: www.rethinkingchristmas.com.