By May McCollom
We all love receiving gifts. What is inside? The package is so pretty! Shiny bow in place, your name on the tag. A gift just for you. It could be something wonderful! You didn’t ask for it; it was freely given to you. I like to hesitate and hold the gift, and enjoy the wonder of the surprise. If I could, maybe I wouldn’t open it at all, but place it on a shelf to savor the moment even longer. But gifts are supposed to be opened and enjoyed.
The Wise Men, or Magi, as some may call them, who came from afar on a journey of many miles didn’t come empty handed. Their trip was for a reason; to honor and to give gifts to the newborn King. They plotted carefully the course they would take, followed the star, and found the Child in Bethlehem.
The gifts were just as carefully planned as the journey. A lot of thought must have gone into the choice of gifts. These were very wise, spiritual men, open to hearing the voice of God. That is why God spoke to them in a dream as they were leaving Bethlehem, not to return to Herod to let him know they had found the Christ Child. The wise men, truly wise, were intune with God.
The treasures they brought, spoken of in Matthew 2:11 of the Bible, weren’t diapers, blankets, milk or bread. They weren’t toy trains, or rubber ducks, or fancy clothes. Each gift that was presented to Little Jesus and Mary had a meaning and a purpose. Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.
Gold, a currency, a way to sustain living expenses. Frankincense, a valuable resin, highly valued for its medicinal and healing properties, trading value, and use in religious services. And myrrh, another resin, fragrant and used in burial ceremonies and also traded. Interesting.
I often wondered why such odd gifts. I mean, gold is ok. Everybody likes gold, right? But the other two I didn’t quite understand.
I get aggravated about buying gifts for the kids, knowing that in two months they will have forgotten my kindness and be hounding me for something new once again. Yes, my kids, and probably most kids, are spoiled these days. It bothers me. It is also not totally in my control, because I have forces working against me and I have for a while. Since the kids were small, my limit on gifts has been overruled by other family members. “Oh, those babies need this…” Or, “But they really wanted this, so why not splurge on Christmas…” And just like that, Christmas presents have expanded and grown in number until the commercialism that I hate so much has invaded even my humble home. Bah humbug.
I understand you, Cindy Lou Who. Where is Christmas?
It’s not in the packages, boxes, and bags. I must find a way to keep commercialism from coming,…but how?!
Then I saw this clear as day. I was enlightened. Like a bright star shined down on it, something I hadn’t ever seen before in all my years. Look at this:
The gifts of the Magi mirror the gift God gave to us.
Jesus is our gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. He is what will sustain us for another day, to keep us living and breathing, something that we can count on in this life to get us through day by day. He supplies all of our needs, our bread when we’re hungry, our water when we’re thirsty, our shelter in time of storm.
Jesus is our frankincense. He may have left this earth, but he did not leave us alone. He sent his comforter, the Holy Spirit to be with us. It guides us, protects us, surrounds us, like the sweet smelling vapors of fragrant incense smoke. Frankincense was used in the Jewish temple to send prayers to Heaven, and as the smoke rose, it carried with it prayers and offerings of sacrifice. Today the Holy Spirit goes to God on our behalf, leads and directs, comforts us, and lingers around us. Oh the sweet, sweet presence of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing else like it.
Jesus is our myrrh. He is the answer to overcome death and burial. He takes the sting out of death, like myrrh fills the cavity of the deceased to preserve the dead and take away all the decaying stench, Jesus purifies us by His death and resurrection, taking our sins upon him and cleansing us, giving us new life. We have the hope of everlasting life because we can believe that Jesus was born to be our myrrh, the son of God in the flesh.
I will never look at gold, frankincense, and myrrh the same ever again. I hope you won’t either. Let us all make Christmas about remembering the real gift, not about what the world wants to make it. May God bless and keep you, and enlighten you this Christmas holiday.