Members of St. George Lutheran Church, Edinburgh, Ind., for years celebrated the gifts of the magi every Epiphany by offering their own gifts.
Called “Gifts for Jesus,” members were invited to share something they had created in place of the sermon on the Epiphany of our Lord Sunday. Alice Curry, chair of the worship and music committee whose idea this was, has since died. But for years after, organist Ken Hauan took up the mantel.
“It was enormously popular since it gave the rest of the congregation some insight into other members and what they do outside of church as an avocation or hobby,” Hauan said.
Members have shared original poetry, songs or art. Some brought quilts or other homemade items. Others even described volunteer work they do.
Hauan remembers two “gifts” that had a particular impact.
One was a woman who went to Camp Atterbury, a base for the Indiana National Guard near Edinburgh, when thousands of troops were in the final stages of training before deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. The woman told about going to help with meals and taking more than 1,000 cookies she had baked. Months after, her son was killed in action.
Another time, two sisters, ages 4 and 5 at the time, taught the congregation a new hymn they liked.
“All we did was ask the congregation if there was anyone who wanted to share. There was never a problem getting enough,” Hauan said.
Larger congregations might want to set a limit on the number of offerings and a presentation order if they’re concerned about time and pacing, he added.