Antioch Baptist Church
Sunday, April 21, 2019
“One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies.” So begins one of the greatest stories ever written: O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, written in 1905. It’s a Christmas story, so it’s appropriately read at that time, but perhaps it’s almost as appropriate for the Easter season since it deals with self-giving and sacrifice -- what Christmas foreshadows and Good Friday and Easter are all about.
In this short story, O. Henry calls the main characters “Magi” for the gifts they give, and they are. But their mutual self-giving rooted in self-sacrifice is also an example of marriage reflecting the life and death of Christ.
In the modern world, marriage and love increasingly viewed through a balance sheet mentality of profit and loss. Emotional self-fulfillment, not mutual self-sacrifice, is often the goal.
No marriage, no love, can survive this sort of cool, careful calculation of giving vs. getting. But the Easter season shows us another way. Christ’s sacrifice isn’t just a good example for us to imitate, it goes deeper than that. Jim and Della, the main characters, give us an example of the fulfillment of the promise of mutual self-giving. Through The Gift, Antioch will present a program that shows us the real meaning of love, of self-giving and sacrifice and not counting the cost or calculating who gets the better deal. Just as Christ gratuitously sacrificed for us, so we are called to do for each other. It’s the ultimate message of the Easter season, foreshadowed by the first three Christmas gifts and all the subsequent gifts thereafter.