What can I give Him, Poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb, If I were a Wise Man I would do my part,— Yet what I can I give Him, Give my heart. Christina Rosetti A Christmas Carol
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:20
I love Christina Rosetti and this poem of hers in particular, but in all actuality the shepherds did not bring a lamb. None of us would have even picked shepherds to invite to the outdoor maternity room. God had chosen Mary for her purity, Joseph reflected obedience and the wise men revealed the royalty of Christ. So what else could be added to that first Christmas? What the shepherds gave was a gift of humility. That gift of their humble praise echoed in the heart of Mary long after the sound of their footsteps vanished back into the night. Their joyful shouts even woke up the villagers and soon the good news of great joy spread throughout Bethlehem. Their very humility lent an authenticity to their message that no strangers bearing costly gifts could bring.
In fact throughout the earthly life of Jesus, that same humility tells the story of God’s love. We see it in a sinful woman’s tears washing Jesus’ feet at the home of a self righteous rich man. And there it is again in the humility of a Samaritan leper’s praise rather than his nine friends who never returned to give thanks. At the end of John’s gospel, Mary Magdalene waits outside the tomb weeping and asking someone she thinks to be the gardener if he knows where Jesus has gone. But when she hears that gardener call her name, she immediately knows that it is Jesus, and she falls in humility at His feet.
And what can we offer Him this Christmas? Costly gifts only reflect our lack of understanding of what matters most to God. He waits for simple shepherds, forgiven sinners, cleansed lepers and the broken hearted of every race, tribe and tongue to come. But if, as Christina Rosetti tells us, we give Him our heart, we will find Him delighted to welcome us for He is at most home with those who most reflect the humble heart of Jesus Christ.