Today is Epiphany, the celebration of the revelation of Jesus Christ to the Wise Men and, as represented by them, the world.
In the early hours before dawn Melanie and I learned of the passing of a dear friend. Today, Clara Chapman had her personal Epiphany with the Savior who loved her.
Clara was particularly significant to us because of how God used her in our lives. It was because of a gift she gave Melanie: a laptop computer. It was one Clara had received but found too troublesome to learn. She had observed Melanie taking notes in a midweek Bible study class at church and thought maybe she could make use of it. Soon everyone was asking for email copies of Melanie’s notes. And eventually Melanie began writing her books on the laptop. She dedicated one to Clara last year (see the picture inside the book here.)
The gift that seemed useless to Clara has born amazing fruit. I fully expect Jesus is giving her credit for her generosity today.
And I have been thinking that it is not always so obvious what value the gifts we give will have to those who receive them.
People joke about the one candied fruitcake that gets passed around from one person to the next at Christmas. No one keeps it because no one wants it.
We don’t know what name others will give to the gifts we pass along: junk or treasure.
A few years ago while I was training to be a deacon, I learned of a small crisis in the home of one of the elderly widows in the church. She had lost a favorite small pin she liked to wear. This was a heartbreaking event to her because it was a momento of her late husband from his military uniform. She had carefully searched her entire house but couldn’t find it.
I had never before noticed the small flag or whatever it was when I would greet her on Suday morning. It had no special meaning to me. But the loss was a matter of great distress to her. That little gift carried a weight of love and memories for her. So I prayed very seriously, asking Jesus to help her find her precious pin, a token that carried a great significance to her that had been invisible to me. (Jesus answered that prayer when, a few days later, this dear lady saw the pin glinting in a shaft of sunlight on the rug.)
While I was recovering from my stroke in the hospital, our house underwent major renovations. We are slowly unpacking again and trying to get things back to normal. I have been surprised and distressed at things that were lost in the process. They are
small things that held meaning only to me. Melanie hasn’t missed them. The value was only in my eyes. It has raised the question of whether they had any value to begin with.
That’s an interesting thing about gifts. They may have different values depending on who is looking at them. I mean, have you ever looked around at those people sitting around you on Sunday morning? You mean to tell me Jesus left Heaven and died for them??
The Wise Men took their gold with them when they left King Herod’s palace. They didn’t lay down their gifts until they were kneeling by the manger.
Herod murdered every child he could find once he tried to follow these foreign visitors.
The Gift looked different and held a different value, depending on whose eyes were looking at it.