Summary: No tree to place them under. No shiny bows or wrapping paper. But the original “Christmas Gifts” are worthy to be examined during this season.
Pt. 3- Myrrh
?Time is running out! Christmas is upon us! If you haven’t completed your shopping list I am sure you are nervous and frantic. There is nothing quite as stressful as needing to find that last second gift when the gift has to be perfect. The narrative has played out. The first wise man kneels and opens the package of gold and presents it to the young divine king. The second wise man bows and offers Frankincense to this One sent to be the go between God and man . . . A gift for a high priest. Now the third and final wise man approaches this small child and I wonder if the thought passed through his mind . . . What do you get someone who has everything? What is the perfect gift for the perfect gift. Time is running out. It is time to present gift. No more shopping days are available. We read the moment of his presentation. There isn’t a ton of detail given.
TEXT: Matthew 2:9-11
(Message) Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.
Not much detail. But we have talked about the imagination that accompanies Christmas. My imagination kicks in here. . . The third wise man has watched Joseph’s jaw drop when he sees the gleam of the gold shining in the light. His appreciation and excitement is undeniable. His attention is fixed. He recognized the knowing/understanding look of Mary when she saw the package of Frankincense that the second wise man presented to Jesus. She knew this little one was a priest. Now it his turn. He steps forward hesitation apparent. Reluctance not because of being an unwilling giver but because he knew. Slowly and careful unwraps the cloth that protected his gift against the long, bumpy and dusty path that he covered to arrive at this moment. The unwrapping brings his gift into the light. He hears the mother catch her breath. He hears the grunt of Joseph. He glances into the eyes of Mary and it is like she knows something he doesn’t. Did her eyes suddenly fill with tears? Was that a momentary look of pain he saw pass over Joseph’s face? This third wise man presents as his gift . . . Myrrh. Not odd to us after Frankincense. However, our own lack of knowledge of these items cushions us against feeling what they must have felt when this gift was handed to this family.
It would help us to know that Myrrh had been imported to Egypt for embalming rituals and the practice had filtered throughout the surrounding areas. Myrrh was connected with death and burial. Now revisit the scene. The gold could be celebrated. Frankincense. OK. But Myrrh? More than awkward ... a prophetically painful gift to give to the mother of a new born child.