What can you get for the man (or woman) who has everything? It’s a question raised by many a magazine article at this time of year, usually accompanied by a list of novelty gifts at far from trivial prices. There is a reason Jamie isn’t getting a £75 pair of penguin-shaped cufflinks and it’s not just that his shirt cuffs have buttons.
The same question is asked, if you think about it, in Christina Rosetti’s carol ‘In the bleak midwinter’. The person who has everything, in this case, is Jesus Christ. He is from heaven; he deserves to be worshipped by angels and archangels, and to have cherubim and seraphim thronging the air around him; he is the Lord God almighty himself. It would be hard to imagine any gift that could impress someone so glorious, so special.
But Jesus claims none of these glories for himself. Rather, in Rosetti’s poetic imagery, he chooses a bleak and freezing stable, a manger bed of hay and the company of animals, and his only worship is his mother’s kiss. So not only is Jesus too wonderful to be impressed by us; he’s also just given us the most blessed and gracious gift imaginable, leaving the heavenly realm to get alongside us in the unglamorous reality of our human life.
No wonder Rosetti asks the question, ‘What can I give him?’ It was all right for the shepherds; all they had was sheep so they brought a lamb. It was all right for the wise men, too, who had their own particular gifts and wisdom to offer. But what about the rest of us? What can I give him?
Rosetti answers her own question. I give him what I can; I give my heart.
Nothing less than this will do. Jesus has given everything for us, accomplished everything we need, and loves us with unflinching generosity. All we have to offer is our own love, poor as it is. The joy is that Jesus accepts our love and delights in it and, through his love, our love becomes something really worth giving.
In all our giving and receiving this Christmas, may we never forget the gift of God’s love; may we give our hearts to him. And may I wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.