Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh. And three wise man, or Magi. They bring their gifts and bestow them on a two-year old toddler Christ. Mary and Joseph look on adoringly, with wonder, whilst the star that led them to Christ glistens overhead.
Pretty standard Christmas narrative, with which we are all so very familiar. But what if there is more to the story than that? What if the gifts given by the Magi weren’t the only ones given – what if there were three other gifts, in celebration of the birth and incarnation of Christ? What if our familiarity with the Advent narrative has led us to miss some key points of the story, losing some of the wonder of His Advent?
Over this Advent series, we will consider the three gifts Jesus came to earth with; three gifts that He consistently handed out to humankind. In fact, over the course of Jesus’ life on earth, every interaction with Him meant walking away with at least one of these gifts influencing your heart. Moreover, because Jesus is like His Father, we know His generosity is boundless; and because the Father is like His Son, we know that God the Father always has a gift for humanity, something that will add to the lives of all He encounters through His Son’s life. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and life more abundant,” and the Spirit now abides with and in us to be sure we receive the abundance that Jesus came to earth to give, freely.
Faith, Hope, and Love – those are the three gifts that Jesus gave humanity, gifts He produced from His own heart, gifts that had been hidden for all eternity in the heart of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. These are Their gifts, that “keep on giving;” the gifts that remain. Paul put it this way: “Now abides faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:11). Jesus’ ministry, the whole of His life in fact, was consumed with giving away these core gifts to all He encountered, disproving the heinous rumors about God’s nature by improving people’s vision of who He is and what His heart is all about. He gave humanity an unmistakable encounter with God that would restore wonder and awe.
We could even go so far as to say that in the three wise men, of the familiar Christmas narrative, we see a metaphor of the Godhead bending low to give a weak and helpless humanity the gifts we need to mature in Their image and likeness. Look on with us as we watch the Son bend down to bestow Faith on humanity – His very own faith, the faith He has in the Father. Come close as we see the Spirit adorn the heart of humanity with Hope – this fervent, vibrant, and robust expectation that the goodness of God will create a hope-filled future for the human race. And step even closer as the Father Himself reaches out to pick up a struggling, weak, infantile humanity, pulling us close to His heart of Love as He speaks the love-filled words, “I am yours, and you are Mine” to a humanity that fails to see Him as their Father.
Taken together, we see in Jesus all of the Faith, Hope, and Love that humanity needed; that is what He brought with Him in His own flesh and spirit, at His incarnation. And if we will receive Him as the gift He is, we will become wise men and women. For, taken together, Faith, Hope, and Love will produce Wisdom in the human heart – the wisdom to seek Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Join us to the manger, where our own filth and stink and weaknesses are revealed, and in that place see in a small baby, in a weak and naïve toddler, the gift of God to humanity: Christ, enfleshing in Himself Faith, Hope, and Love. Let wonder and mystery return, and with us become wise in His eyes – wise in all of that He is for us, and through us to a stinking, hurting world.