Ever wondered about the significance of those strange gifts given to the baby Jesus by the wise men from the east who followed the star?
On January 6th Christmas is officially over! I know, Woollies and Coles moved on to Easter on Boxing Day with their hot-cross buns, but there are actually twelve days of the Christmas season. See, you didn’t have to take those Christmas lights down by New Years after all!
Epiphany, celebrated on January 6th, marks the beginning of the next season on the Christian calendar. Epiphany has a couple of meanings. On one hand it means ‘revelation’. People speak of having an ‘epiphany moment’ (like the lights have suddenly come on… an ‘aha’ moment!) But epiphany also means the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles (non-Jews), represented by the wise men. Yes, they see the light too, as they follow the star.
What we discover about these wise men (and no, they were not kings, but magi) is that they have a profound sense of understanding about Jesus. This is revealed in the gifts they bring which on the surface seem quite bizarre, except for the gold. I’d take gold any day! The gifts, however are significant in this way. Gold represented kingship. Jesus would be known as king of the Jews and indeed the King of kings, the ultimate ruler. Frankincense was used in the temple as part of the sacrificial offering. This represented the priestly role of Jesus, the go between between God and the people. And myrrh? Well, this was a burial spice, and, of course, is symbolic of Jesus’ death upon the cross. So we see, these gifts brought by the wise men, though not at all practical for a baby, have a deeper meaning. ‘Wise’ men indeed!
The thing that challenges me most in this story centres around the question: What gift do I bring to Jesus? Matthew, who tells us the story of the wise men, says that they came to ‘pay homage’ to Jesus. At least that’s what they tell the nasty King Herod. But we see that when they meet the Christ-child they do much more… they actually worship him. Worship is giving ‘worth’ to something or someone. We all do that in some shape or form. It’s where our heart is. For those of us at Mudgeeraba Uniting, we are seeking to give our highest worth to Jesus. We want him to have our hearts. That’s the gift we bring Sunday by Sunday, but more than that, we seek to worship him every waking moment of every day in all we do and say.