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.
I have heard this verse at least twice this week, sung by children, staff and parents from two very different schools. One is a quite prestigious independent school, with a largely very privileged intake, the other is a once-failing (but now very much on the up) state primary, with a deprived catchment area, and as diverse a community as you can imagine.
This has led me to ponder a bit about gifts and giving. The children at those two very different schools are, I should think, likely to receive very different things for Christmas (if they receive anything). But both groups of children came into church with gifts to give – not material gifts, but gifts of music, dancing, storytelling, drama, singing. And despite the very unequal opportunities they have received, those gifts were, broadly speaking, very similar. Certainly more similar than different.
And in bringing the gift mentioned in the carol – themselves – there is no distinction at all between the two groups. All are equally valued, equally precious, equally loved by God.
So although the gifts these children (and all of us) receive may be very different, the most precious gift we have to give – ourselves – is the thing that reveals our shared, equal humanity.
This year for Advent Book Club we are reading “Unearthly Beauty” by Magdalen Smith. Join in on Facebook or Twitter using #AdventBookClub.