On Christmas morning, my daughter asked me a haunting question. "Why do we give gifts to each other on Jesus' birthday?" Clearly, she is onto something here. My four year old understands birthdays... and in her experience, the person whose birthday we are celebrating is the one who receives presents.
I fumbled with a lame answer about the Magi. I don't think she even remembers my feeble attempt at an answer. She was quickly moving onto her next gift.
But it has kept me thinking. As I have been preparing for my sermon for Sunday, I have been thinking about the gifts the Magi brought (this is the text for Sunday). Gold for a King, Frankincense for a Priest, Myrrh for One preparing to die. The point of the gifts, of course, was to reveal who Christ really is.
I have searched the internet for the history of gift giving. There really is no well thought out theological significance to exchanging gifts... just a history of how it evolved out of ancient traditions, or when the first advertisement for Christmas gifts was published (first half of 19th Century in this country)
So here is my stab at it: What if our Christmas gift giving was done with the express intent of honoring who we really are in God? If gifts were given with the intent of honoring the image of Christ within each one of us?