There is nothing worse than unused presents – Christmas or birthday or any other occasion. I cringe when I think about the things I have asked Joe to buy me. There are some things that have been well used and other things that have not been so well used.
I asked for an MP3 player this year and last night I spent a bit of time learning how to use it. I uploaded the only CD I had to hand at the time – David Cassidy! I spent the rest of the evening bobbing up and down and singing out my favourite lines as I plugged myself in! This morning I added a worship CD to the list of stuff on the player. I feel “cool” and “with it”, although I have to admit that finding a comfortable place in my ear for the ear plugs takes me a while!
I was thinking earlier on in the week about the gifts that the wise men brought to Jesus. I am not aware that Jesus ever used any of them. When I think about a time when he needed money to pay taxes – he didn’t use the gold to do so, but sent a friend to catch a fish and the money needed was in the fish’s mouth. He didn’t use the frankincense – the gift of the priest - as he didn’t go into that part of the temple to burn it before the altar. He prayed on hilltops early in the morning and ministered to the lepers and tax collectors that the other priests had no time for. He didn’t get to use the myrrh either. A woman anointed his feet with perfume before his death, and before the women got to the tomb with their anointing oils, Jesus had risen from the dead and there was no body to anoint.
There are traditions about what happened to the gifts. Some traditions have Mary and Joseph selling the gifts to make ends meet and pay the bills. Another tradition had Judas lusting after the gold and stealing it. Another tradition had the boxes the gifts held being revered in a very old church in Russia somewhere.
There is also another story that talks about the baby Jesus giving gifts to the wise men. According to one tradition, Jesus gave them stones. They didn’t see the usefulness of the gifts and threw them down a well. The well exploded in a ball of fire and they realised that what was given should not be treated so shabbily. I did read on to the end of the story – but the bit about being given a gift and how I treat that gift matters really touched me. To treat a gift in a casual and careless manner says something about how you regard the gift giver.
Any way, back to Jesus’ unused gifts – what could you give to Jesus that he would make use of?
The Spirit’s answer? Yourself!
In Jesus’ hands, the gift of “myself” would not go unused. It is when I take myself out of Jesus’ hand that I become unused.