On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 22: An Infant. Some Shepherds. The Magi.

“Then, opening their treasures…they offered Him gifts” (Matthew 2:11 RSV)

In our era, the Feast of the Holy Nativity of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ is all about giving. Most importantly, it is all about the giving of the Son of God from our Father through the Mother of God. God gave freely, without our asking.

Throughout his adult life Jesus always taught us to give and to serve. But, when He first came into this world as the Child of a poor family who had but a cave as shelter, He came as Someone who needed help. It was not by chance that He was born without a place to lay His head. What does this mean for us? Among many other things, Christ’s coming into the world as a humble and helpless infant shows us there is no shame in being poor. When we practice stewardship and give more and more of ourselves and of our time, talent and treasure, we may begin to think of ourselves as better than someone in need. We may look down upon those who need our generosity. We may take pride in our own skills and accomplishments, even though we are giving them back to God. We may, in fact, begin to look down on the poor; feel sorry for them; and, like the Pharisee, thank God that we are not “like” those “poor people.” When in our pride we look down upon the poor we look down upon the infant Jesus Himself.

The shepherds who kept watch over their flocks by night, have a permanent place in the Nativity story. They made the trek from the fields in the middle of the night, and brought only themselves and their sheep. What was their stewardship? Think about it. When was the last time you visited someone in the hospital who was not an immediate family member or close friend? When did you last show care to the neighbor next door, or the poor widow down the street? Even if all we have to give is our interest, our caring, and our time to go and visit – these are important gifts to give.

Like most of us, the Magi were men with many blessings. They are praised in the Nativity story not just for coming to worship Jesus but also for bringing Him gifts. Many Orthodox do not live close to their churches. Like the Magi of old they travel a long way to Christ. But they also travel with gifts to bring for Him. We also are expected to bring our gifts with us. Whether we travel a short distance or long one, our wisdom is to come bearing gifts that the One whom we worship may be honored and blessed with our gifts.

In our era, the Feast of the Holy Nativity of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ is all about giving…

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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