What Gifts Do I Bring?
“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:6-8) NRSV
What gift shall I bring to the Christ-child? Each of the participants in the birth brought something. They came and offered to him according to their natures: the shepherds arrived with news of God’s desire for “peace on earth among those of good will;” the magi came with their symbolic offerings of gold and frankincense and myrrh; Herod brought his paranoid brutality; Mary and Joseph brought a willingness to say, “yes” to the movement of the Spirit.
What will we bring him now? We too are invited to give according to our natures. It is the Christ-child we are gifting so we want to draw from our very best. We can take a cue from the prophet Micah, of course. Micah lifts up the three things which God loves best - in Hebrew mishpot, hesed, zedekah - in English, justice, love, and right-relatedness. These three attributes are loved by God because they describe God’s way of relating to us. God is just, and loving, and righteous.
All the great Christian mystics have proclaimed that the best we can give God is our love. Moreover, it is not to God that our love must be directed. It is to those that are as unworthy of our love as we are of God’s. We find echoes of this sentiment in the 1549 Anglican Book of Common Prayer: “And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.”
Gracious God who “came down for us and for our salvation,” you have shown us what it is to be a living sacrifice. We come now to offer you our very best, today and in the days to come. May your Spirit guide us and aid us in the pursuit of justice, loving kindness, and humility. In the name of the Christ-child who is the living essence of all these gifts. Amen.