Gifts from Near & Afar
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy, And going into the house they saw the
child with Mary...and they fell down and worshipped him. Then opening their treasures, they offered
him gifts….” Matthew 2:10-11 (ESV)
The arrival of the Magi always provokes the imagination and wonder of Christmas. Several years ago, I saw a mock news network bringing us a “live present day version” of the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem. An unexplained comet ‘stalks” the Mid-Eastern sky, attracting much attention in an uneasy world. Then mysterious visitors from the East, traveling in Mercedes sedans, arrive complete with Arab garb, all in search of a child; a child born King of the Jews.
In the English speaking world, the arrival of this mysterious group from the East is often celebrated as “twelfth night,” marking the coming of Epiphany which is the true manifestation of Christmas. In literature, O. Henry wrote a famous short story about the special, sacrificial gifts given to one another by a loving married couple in The Gift of the Magi. And Shakespeare had given us that hilarious play, Twelfth Night, complete with its mischievous gnome, Puck. Why is Twelfth Night, or Epiphany, so relevant that it has worked its way into our culture? Ah! The Gifts!
What about our gifts to God? As I am writing this, the Christmas season is fast upon us and we will soon welcome in a New Year. In the Advent season, we have placed wrapped “gifts” under our Christmas tree with each labeled for a specific theme: hope, love, joy and peace. In time, the decorations will be taken down, the tree and ornaments put away ‘til next year, but do the gifts remain? The answer is yes! That is what the season of Advent (preparation) has been teaching us. Through reflection and self-examination, we are now prepared to be called into action. The gift we have been given by God at Christmas is the gift we can share with others. How?
Think about this past year, 2018, at Deer Creek Presbyterian Church. We have had successes and struggles; happy times and sad times, yet we continued to share the love of God through worship and service. Through the monthly breakfast, we have assisted many with almost $20,000 being given to those in financial need. The deacons helped over fourteen families have a blessed thanksgiving with food baskets. Not to mention the other missions we have supported throughout the year. We also always support one another through prayer, encouragement and visitations. These are the gifts we are called to share.
As the New Year unfolds, I encourage each one to live out the message of giving through the sharing of your tithes, talents and treasures, with faith, confidence and excitement. These attributes are the gospel in action and what are called to be as the Body of Christ.
Wishing You All A Blessed New Year!
Yours in Christ,