Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
I can just imagine the look on Joseph’s face when these obviously very wealthy guys turned up in the rough, scruffy neighbourhood in which he had managed to find a temporary shelter for himself, his wife Mary and her baby son. If the neighbours had had curtains at their windows they would be twitching like mad now to see what was going on! Bedecked and bejewelled men definitely of some status with camel trains, drivers and a host of servants, all richly dressed. Whatever were they doing in this neck of the woods? Clearly, they were passing through having taken a wrong turn somewhere. But no, they stopped outside the Joseph’s house, well cave really, but at least it was somewhere to stay until Mary was fit to travel. And having stopped the princes, kings or whatever they were, dismounted from their camels and asked if they could enter Joseph’s home. Well, what could he say? “Of course, come in you are most welcome but I'm afraid we have little to offer you.” Anyway, they went in and as St Matthew’s gospel tells us: ‘they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh’ Matthew 2:11(NIV). What was Joseph to make of that? He really couldn’t get his head round what was going on here. The gifts were for the baby Jesus whom the wise men had rightly recognised as the Messiah: gold to celebrate the Wealth of God’s creation; Frankincense to celebrate his Power in the World and Myrrh to symbolise his approaching death.
The question then is what gifts do you have to bring to the Messiah? St Paul sets out quite clearly what we are called to do in his letter to the Romans where he says: 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:5-8 NIV. Don’t feel confident about that? Then there is one thing, one gift that God has given to us all, the most precious gift that we can offer to God, our lives. But how? Remember: ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV.
Since there is far too much anger, hatred, violence, corruption and madness in the world today, let us strive to love God and our neighbour, whoever he may be, with all our hearts, minds and bodies. That surely is the greatest gift we can offer to God.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years