Summary: It is in loving others – it is in sharing our gifts – that we become free to receive the most precious gift of all – the grace, love, and mercy of Christ in our own lives.
What Gifts Do You Bring? Matthew 2:1-12
One of the most appealing Christmas stories is that of Amal and the Night Visitors. The three wise men are on the way to Bethlehem, and they come to the home of a poor woman who has a little boy named Amal. Amal is crippled; he could not walk without a crutch.
One evening their humdrum existence was interrupted by a loud knocking at their door, and his mother said to Amal, “Go see who is at the door.” He went, and he came back and said, “Momma, a king is there.”
She lashed him with her tongue for exaggerating so much and sent him back to the door, and he came back the second time. He said, “There are two kings out there.” He was in big trouble by then. So for a third time she sent him to the door, and he said, “Momma, there are three kings out there.”
Eventually, after all kinds of conversation, the three wise men came in. After much conversation Amal’s mother wished she had something to send but she was very poor. Amal, sensing what was happening all around him, sensing he had nothing at all to send but wanting to send something, decided, “I will send my crutch.” The one thing that was indispensable to him, he was going to give away. So he lifted up his crutch and gave it to the wise men.
He gave what he had; he gave it personally; he gave it completely. And then a miracle occurred. His mother noticed first that he could walk now. The giving away of the most valuable treasure that Amal had was the very thing that freed him from the need of having to use it.
Today’s Gospel reading is found in Matthew 2:1-12 where the story of the three wise men coming to worship at the feet of Jesus is told. It is during this time of year, immediately following Christmas, that we commemorate this event.
This week is widely celebrated as the Epiphany. It is when we remember the events directly after the birth of Jesus. It is a time when we, like the magi who followed a distant star, are reminded of the fullest meaning of the coming of Jesus.
While they are often referred to as kings, it is probably more likely that they were astrologers familiar in some way with the coming of the Messiah.
They may have been descendants of some who had even come into contact with the Messianic prophecies during the Babylonian captivity of the Nation of Israel some centuries prior to the birth of Christ.
Whatever their background; they were wise men from the East who were provoked to action by a star which signaled Christ’s birth. They came to worship at the feet of the new born King, each bearing a uniquely valuable gift.
This morning I pose to you this question – What gifts do you bring to the King?
The Magi came before Jesus bearing gifts of incredible value. God has placed gifts of incredible value inside of each one of us. Just as the Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, each of us bears unique and valuable gifts for the Kingdom of God.
Our calling from God is to share whatever gifts we have in common for the benefit of the mission of the community of faith. I’m terribly afraid though that many believers today do not recognize or have not been told what that mission is.
The mission of the church is twofold; to edify the saints and to share the love of Christ with this world which is in desperate need of hope.
I Corinthians 12:25-27 says, “so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” (NASB)
We are all members of one body and our gifts – whatever they may be – are meant to serve one another so that the love of Christ may shine brightly in, around, and forth – from the fellowship that we share together.
I am reminded of the story of the Pastor of a congregation in rural Pennsylvania. One day he found two containers on his desk with a note from a thoughtful church member, wishing that he and his wife would sample her home cooking.
One container held some delicious hearty soup, which they ate the next day. The Pastor tasted the other food, which appeared to be an odd squash dish.
Being suspect, it eventually was discarded. Meanwhile, the Pastor and his wife thanked the woman for her gracious gift, especially the soup. They avoided mentioning the “squash,” which they felt guilty about wasting.