Summary: The Magi saw the star and by faith they came to worship the Christ. They brought their finest gifts- gold, frankensence, and myrrh. What will you bring? Jesus only wants you! Bring yourself.
What Will You Bring
The star they had seen in the east[e] went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another road.
It’s January 2, but I am still talking about Christmas up here! In the Bible and in ancient customs, the story and celebrations did not end with the birth of Jesus. The festivities continued through a number of key events- throughout a season that BEGAN on Christmas. We have it backwards. We build up to Christmas Day, and then it is over. In traditional churches, Christmas Day was the FIRST day of the celebration.
Epiphany, which we will celebrate on January 6, was the final celebration in the traditional Christmas season. Some faith traditions call this Three Kings Day. Amazingly, this week I saw a Kings Cake in the Walmart bakery! So if you saw a King’s Cake and are wondering what is up...some of us are still celebrating Christmas by looking forward to Epiphany.
The holiday commemorates the coming of the Wise Men to visit the Christ child and the great realization that the incarnate Christ has been born.
The official, dictionary definition for epiphany is “to show" or "to make known" or even "to reveal." However, we better understand the word as suddenly “getting” something. We jokingly call “aha” moments an “epiphany.”
When my son realized that he really did have to take out the garbage everyday or lose privileges... that was an “epiphany.” When high-level executives were indicted in the last few years for “cooking the books” and when they realized they were not above the law—that was an epiphany.
Unlike King Herod and others whose reign was threatened by the birth of Jesus, the Wise Men “got it.” They had an epiphany. When they brought gifts to the infant Jesus, they were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as "King" and so were the first to "show" or "reveal" Jesus to a wider world as the incarnate Christ.
This act of worship by the Wise Men, also called the Magi, was one of the first indications that Jesus came for all people, of all nations, of all races, and that the work of God in the world would not be limited to only a few people.
It is the gifts of the Magi that I want to talk about now. The Magi brought the finest gifts they had. Just as God had given his best, they gave the most expensive gifts of their day. They brought gold for prosperity, frankincense for sweetness, and myrrh, symbolizing Christ’s ability to overcome even the worst of times.
After seeing the star brightly shining, the Magi knew by faith the importance of this birth and they brought only their finest. They did not give gifts to each other. They did not have a Christmas tree at home with tons of presents for their family and friends. The gift giving that went on during the birth of Christ was TO Christ.
The Magi felt the power of the Christ child and humbled themselves to him, worshipping, and laying at his feet the best they had to offer.
And so, Christ was just revealed to us. Each year the light comes anew and we have the chance to lay aside the past and work for new and better things in our lives. The world receives again the possibility for peace and goodness. We get to see the Christmas star again and let it lead us to a new hope and a new life.
Did you get it?
Under the wrappings and bows, there was another gift. The gift of hope, love, understanding, and peace. Did you get it? Did you feel the awe as the Magi did? Did you decide to leave the status quo of your life and follow the star to the great mystery?
If that part of Christmas got lost this year, do not worry. It is not too late. The party is still going on. We still have time for the epiphany. However, we must bring something—a gift of some sort.
If we followed the lead of the Magi and brought our finest gifts of, some of you would ante up: diamonds, coin collections, and your artwork. Perhaps your finest possession is a nice SUV or cabin in the woods. I would have to place at Jesus’ feet my complete set of Beatles albums on CD and my new snowshoes.