What can I give Him, poor as I am?

The Magi believed in Christ when they had never seen him and probably not read of any of his prophecies. They believed in him when Herod was opposing and deceiving them. They believed in him when the religious leaders were unbelieving. They believed in him when they saw him as a little child and worshipped him as a king. This was the crowning point in their simple faith. No miracles. No healings to convince them. No teaching to persuade them. They didn’t need any of that.

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. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” (Matthew 2 v 11-12)

They knew what they had to do. They had brought gifts. They had brought gold for a king. This king would not come by force but with love. He would rule over men’s hearts not from a throne but a cross of wood. They had brought frankincense for a priest. This priest would not use the incense in the Temple to connect man with God. He would open the way to the presence of God not by works or any sacrificial Temple offering of man but by His own sacrifice and Him alone. They had brought myrrh for the Saviour, the one who would die for His people. This Saviour became the perfect sacrifice so that we could at last know forgiveness and be at peace with God. They brought these gifts and most probably they didn’t know the meaning that we over the centuries have given these gifts. They just brought gifts. Expensive ones. For them it seemed the right thing to do. Little did they realise that both Joseph and Mary would need these gifts to sustain them when they became refugees.

They came to the house. Mary and Joseph had moved from the manger scene. Their baby was now a child. This was 1-2 years after the birth. But nativities would last a very long time if the period of time was considered!

They entered in and saw the child. That’s the focal point. For months God had been using a ‘star’ to pull them from their homeland to the feet of Jesus so they could see a miracle.

Their eyes met the eyes of Jesus. The gifts took second place. There was only one thing that they could do and that was to fall down and worship. What we can bring to Jesus is not as important as our hearts of worship.

In 1872, Christina Rosetti, the sister of the artist Dante (and who she posed for in many of his paintings) wrote a poem that has global fame. She had herself a difficult life. A broken engagement and further turning down two offers of marriage around the time of this poem she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease. Today an overactive thyroid is treatable but in the 19th century it was even more debilitating. Her poem has these words:

What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

It wouldn’t be long after this poem was written that she would develop cancer and die in London in 1894. Her life ended with nothing much that she could give. But He had her heart and that was the most precious gift she could give. It still is.

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