-Rev. Craig A. McDonald-
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”
Gifts are precious. Is there a particular gift you received that was especially memorable? More than likely it was a gift that held some special meaning for you. It could be that someone listened to you when you saw something in a store and they went back and got it. It could be that someone knows you so well that they found a gift that speaks to a joy or passion that you hold. It might be the gift of presence as someone makes the time or journey to be with you. Gifts come in all sorts of ways.
I can’t help but think of the magi as they made the trek to find Jesus. When they spoke with Herod they knew that they were entering dangerous territory, yet they persisted. They made a dangerous journey that many scholars believe to be a significant amount of time. They brought with them gifts to share with this newborn child and its family, honoring that moment and what is to come. They give one more gift as they choose to leave by another route, not reporting back to Herod and possibly endangering themselves and families to keep that secret.
We far too often think of gifts as solely physical things. We prepare ourselves in this season for the arrival of the Christ as if it is a journey. At the end of the journey we receive and respond to the Good News that is the Christ child and do our best to respond. How we respond can be seen as a gift.
The season of Advent presents us with an opportunity to be creative with our gift giving as we ask ourselves, ‘what gift to we bring to the Christ child?’ The ways that we interact with the world, how we treat our coworkers, the compassion we show to the stranger, and the work that we do for justice are all responses to this amazing news that comes to us in the form of a vulnerable child. It is our opportunity to journey through this Advent season and present our gifts to the Christ.
Great One, we give thanks for the opportunity to share in the gift of your son to this world, and we give thanks for the opportunity to share our gifts in response.
Rev. Craig McDonald is an ordained minister with the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church), most recently serving First Christian Church of Rome, GA. Rev. Craig served as a Young Adult Pastor at Arch Street UMC in Philadelphia, PA, as Associate Pastor at Mercy Community Church in Atlanta, and as a Youth Pastor at Sandy Springs Christian Church. He earned his MDiv from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, and earned his Bachelor’s degree from Columbus State University.
Craig loves mountain biking and all things outdoors. He and his wife, Megan, enjoy cooking, traveling, and hiking with their dog Maxwell.