The gift exchange

Epiphany was 3 days ago. A few of us gathered in a circle and listened to the story of the magi from the east searching for the Christ. The table in the middle of our circle was draped with sparkling blue cloth on which stood three carved, intricately painted wise men surrounded with little tea lights. At the center of it all was a small icon a friend had given me: Mary holding the child Christ. I watched the light playing around the figures on the table and on the faces of my brothers and sisters. If we were to bring three gifts, what would we bring?

“My eagerness to do some work for the child,” said one emphatically. “Just put me to work.”

“I’d bring a puppy for the child Jesus to play with, ” said another playfully.

“What would I give him? I’d give him my heart,” a poet once said.

So what more could I add to these imaginative answers? Nothing much. Yet the question about gifts has stuck with me these few days. What would I, Elaine, bring the Christ child?

Slowly I have begun to realize in a new way something that I have known and preached for years: that each of us has been given unique gifts. I have a few that the Spirit has given me. So what could I give the Christ child? Those same gifts I have been given. But to do that means giving a priority of time, space and creativity to that which I have been gifted in doing. It means actively putting those gifts to work for the encouragement of others. It also means that when I scramble and agonize over those things that I do not do well, it may be counter-productive. I have been thinking about those gifts that first drew me into being a pastor and wondering how I end up putting so much energy into other things that have little to do with the gifts I was given. Over the three days I have prayerfully named those gifts given to me. I have also named what has obviously not been given to me. For now, I’ll leave the specifics unnamed and leave it at this:

What will I give the Christ child? For this year, a shift in priorities, an internal permission and a creation of space, so that I can honor and delight in “giving” the gifts the Christ has put into my hands in the first place.


  1. The gift of clarity of priorities to touch others and also allow growth in ourselves. May the new year bring this clarity to all who seek it. Happy new year. Your gift of words, spoken and written touch us all.

  2. thanks Elaine…reminds me of what I need to focus on too…I have neglected my blog….more later….Meg