Prayer: Heavenly Father, We bring our worship before you this Christmastime. Help us to share Your love with all those you place in our paths. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
Scripture: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:1-11 NIV
In O. Henry’s classic short story, “The Gifts of the Magi,” he calls the treasures given by these Magi, “wise.” He reminds us that the Magi were the very ones who invented the art of giving. This short story is one that helps us see what true sacrificial giving is. It opens with Della counting out her savings: the paltry sum of $1.87 cents. She wants to buy her husband, Jim, a watch chain for his most precious possession, an heirloom watch handed down to him from his grandfather. Jim and Della Dillingham Young are a poor couple who love each other deeply, and long to give each other Christmas gifts. Their deep love for each other drives them to find a solution. Della’s beauty is her long, brown hair. She makes the sacrificial decision to sell her hair for twenty dollars to buy the watch chain for Jim. However, unknown to Della, Jim has sold his watch and bought tortoiseshell hair combs with jeweled rims for Della’s gorgeous locks.
That evening as the two open their gifts, it seems that they had unwisely sacrificed for each other. However, O. Henry closes the story with these lines:
“But in a last word to the wise of these days, let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. They are the Magi.”
When we think of the wise men’s gifts, sacrificial giving does not often come to mind, after all, they were kings with vast coffers of treasure. Perhaps the sacrifice of these kings was the long and dangerous journey following the Star of Bethlehem. There were, no doubt, thieves and other perilous trials on their quest in search of the Christ child. Their mission was to find the King of Kings and worship Him.
As the hustle and bustle invades our classrooms this December, let us look for ways to show the sacrificial love of Jesus to our students, colleagues, administrators, parents, and our own families. This is truly our act of worship to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords born that night in Bethlehem. Let us be “the wise of these days,” and let it be said of us that we are the Magi.
Action: Read or reread O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi,” and look for ways to give sacrificially this Christmas season.
Copyright Kathleen White. To connect with the author, email email@example.com
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