My favourite shoe brand initiated a random $20 gift exchange this Christmas, encouraging community and generosity. It's a neat idea, to sign up and mail a stranger a gift that will hopefully have meaning for them. It took some thought and creativity, having been emailed an address and 10 words about a person, to find something that would be appreciated, useful, wanted.
(For the curious - I received a gorgeous handmade beret in my favourite colours! I hope the recipient of my gift was as pleased!)
This process as fun, and careful, and took some thought.
It made me wonder if the magi, when they set off on their journey, pondered about their gifts. Those treasures carried from far away places, loaded with meaning, to be given to people they'd never met.
Although the star gave general direction, with their entourages they asked directions to search for the child. So, Herod (and others!) were aware of their presence, and by the nature of their expensive gifts, their role and the role of the child.
How difficult for them, then, to convince the townsfolk that they were of good intention, to find and convince the protective new parents to let them near the child. How difficult to give to young unknown parents those gifts that foreshadowed the prophesied joys and pains that their child would endure.
How trusting of Mary and Joseph to receive the gifts, aware of their meaning, and of their need to put them to good use.
Yet how import those gifts were to the earthly family of our Saviour Jesus, practically and symbolically. How important the ministry was of the magi, in their willingness to serve God in that strange and unusual way.
And how beautifully important for all of us to celebrate the gift we are given in the opportunity to give, delighting that God will use us to deliver gifts (even in the most random of circumstances).
My prayer this week is that we will find a way to bring a gift to someone who needs it; and that we will receive a gift of God when one is offered.