Gifts: Given and Recorded

January 6, 2019

Much has been made about the journey of those who followed a star.  They came a great distance.  In our manger and crèche scenes kings are added to the shepherds.  Symbolically many reflect on these who made the journey as the learned and educated and the shepherds as those who did not have that opportunity.  The message is that all are welcome, no matter what their walk in life is.  Some like to reflect on the reality that those who worked the fields with their hands were closer in distance and in a way closer to the Lord, and those who were schooled in other ways had a greater distance.  No matter how we want to dissect or add meaning and new reflections to what took place; the message remains the same, all are welcome.  No one is excluded from coming to celebrate the Lord.

In our electronic age, our phones become a powerful lens in which we see and share things.  So often in all kinds of moments and at all different places we see phones come out and pictures taken and sent.  All of this records the moment and allows us to share it with others across the world.  What a great age we live in to be able to do this.  If that technology was present at the time of Jesus, I wonder what would have been recorded.  Would the shepherds have been able to record the song of the angels as they gave glory to God in the highest?  Would the kings have wanted to take a selfie with the Lord Jesus?  And if they did, what would they want in the picture?  Would they be holding the child?  Would they want their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh in the picture?  Would they have wanted a group shot or just an individual one?

While this question on hand may seem spiritually shallow, on another level the question that is posed can reveal a lot about us.  If you could take a selfie with Jesus, where would you want the picture to be taken?  If you could have a selfie with Jesus, who else would be invited in the picture?  What would you wear?  These are important questions.  We post and repost, we share pictures of captivating moments revealed in our selfies.  If Jesus wanted a selfie with you, what event would you like to have as a backdrop?  We choose picture worthy moments in the times we choose to grab the phone.  What greater a picture than one with the Lord Jesus?  How would this picture be different from any other?

I have had time to ponder this for a while.  At first, I thought of taking the selfie including the things that influenced my life, such as the cemetery at the grave of my folks, thanking Jesus for the choice He made in gifting me with them as my parents.  I then moved to the celebration of the Eucharist, as it is the high point of my life.  Then I moved to Israel, the Holy Land.  The place of the loaves and fishes has always spoken to me, so has the Garden of Gethsemane and the empty tomb.  I also reflected on the outreaches that have shaped my life, from funding a truck in Nigeria, to buying a ton of rice, an actual ton of rice to feed others in the Philippines.  These are moments where I sensed myself following the Gospel in profound ways.  These would be good backdrops.  But when I reflected more deeply, I realized He knows all of that.  To have a selfie with Jesus would be an honor beyond my imagination and in His presence I would just bow down, kneel down as low to the ground as I could and say, I am not worthy.  My words might echo the spirit of those spoken by Elizabeth: who am I that the Lord would want a selfie with me?  They might echo the words of John the Baptist: I am not worthy to unfasten the straps of His sandals.  I think I would just cry and say I am sorry for my sins.  While it took me a lot of reflection and time to arrive to this conclusion, it is the one true journey of my heart.  As I journey reflecting on the greatness of God who sent angels to shepherds and a star to the kings, I realize He has sent Jesus to me and you.  He captures our lives in His love, He removes the barriers we create and overwhelms us with His compassion.

If Jesus wanted a selfie with you, what would you do?

Reverend  John J. Ouper