This sermon was preached at St Aidan’s by Susan Graham Walker as part of our series on giving.
Gifts can be tricky.
Some gifts come with a desire to control the receiver.
Can you remember a gift that came with expectations? A gift that
had a string attached?
Gifts can be used to establish parity or equality.
Gifts are given and received that are of the same value.
Then we have the familiar story today of the gifts of the Magi.
The text talks of three gifts.
Reading closely (as is often the case with scripture) there is more.
There are four gifts.
One not named as a gift.
It is in fact the first gift.
‘On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother;
and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then they offered
They paid him homage. This is the first gift.
This is an important gift. It expresses their relationship to the child
Kneeling these foreign kings / wise men / magi first give
themselves to the child.
They paid him homage.
Flowing from this acknowledgement they then offer their gifts.
Their gifts are a response to the greater gift they have received.
The recognize God’s gift of the Christ child.
They see / is it revealed / it is an Epiphany
They pay homage to this expression of God’s infinite generosity.
They pay homage and then give gifts.
Their best homage and then their best gifts.
God expresses similar infinite generosity in so many ways in our own lives.
And here in this season God actually gives God’s self to us.
When we see this we too can begin with homage –
Our recognition of whose we are, who we honour and who we
We can then participate in this economy defined by infinite
We can respond with our selves and bring our best gifts to God
and God’s son.
How do we show this generosity?
How do we give our gifts?
What do we give?
That is a journey – like the Magi – that is particular to each of us.
We all learn our own way.
That first step is paying homage (the first gift). Recognizing whose
we are and who we serve.
Then we can discover and give our gifts.
Here is an important moment in my own journey.
More than 20 years ago I began a
practice of giving all my change to
the first person who asks for it each
One day early on I was have lunch in
a park with a friend and a very tall
and very ebony man approached us
pulling a bundle buggy with all his
possessions. He asked for spare
I rummaged around and picked at
my change saying ‘I just need to take
out the TTC token’. I gave him the
change. He said, like many of these
people I have met, ‘Bless you’.
A few minutes later I saw him
returning. What did this mean?
He approached and asked me to put
out my hand. It did and into it he
placed a blue plastic token holder.
He said, ‘You need this more than I
do.” He disappeared.
This revealed to me that
Since that time I have been on a
journey to be as generous as he was
– for me to give away the same
proportion of my possessions as he
did. I’m no where close,
but I welcome opportunities when they
present themselves and they do
present themselves regularly.
A result of this story for me is that I now feel a tremendous sense
of freedom to give and usually can respond when asked.
The journey is made easier when opportunities for generosity align
with ones faith; when our community lives its faith as St Aidan’s
does through your hospitality to the United Churches in
the Beach; your witness in the Beach community; your support of the arts.
We each have our own personal story that connects with our faith
community’s story. You have your own experience of grace and
God’s infinite generosity. There are moments of revelation – God’s
epiphany – in your journey.
Enter the house – this house
We see the child with his mother – in the crèche, in the windows,
in song, in actions.
We give our first gift
We pay him homage
We recognize whose we are
We recognize God’s infinite generosity
Then we offer our best gifts.
May God’s will be done. Amen.