Today is January 6, which is the day of Epiphany. Epiphany is the day set aside to celebrate the journey of the Wise Men who visited the new king which was born to save the world. The Bible does not go into great detail about the kings. We are told that King Harrod wanted to find out where this special baby was who he had heard about. King Harrod was the king and did not like the idea of a new king who might take his place. He summoned the Wise Men to find the baby so he could know who and where the baby was. King Harrod wanted to know where this future king was so he could get rid of him.
Three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were given to the baby Jesus. The story tells of three men of different ages and nationalities who were named Balthasar, Melchior, and Caspar who traveled a great distance to worship the Christ Child. Some stories refer to the wise men as Magi. Many pictures show the Wise Men at the manger of the Christ Child. The Wise Men followed the great star in the sky for a long time. Some accounts tell us that Jesus was older and living in the home of his mother and father when the Wise Men found him. We know that the Wise Men were very happy to see the Christ Child and bowed down before him and offered him gifts. They did not go back to King Harrod to let him now where Jesus was located. They set off in a different direction in hopes of keeping the Christ Child safe.
Can you imagine how patient the Wise Men were to follow the star and how excited they were to finally see the Christ Child. The three gifts given by the Wise Men were very special. Gold is one of the most precious metals today. In the time of Jesus’ birth, gold was even more rare and precious than it is today. Gold was only owned by royalty or nobility. Some see the Wise men’s gift of gold as representing money, symbolic of the fact that we too should support the work of Christ with financial gifts.
Frankincense is a resin that comes from the frankincense tree of Arabia. It was originally considered sacred and only the purest could approach the trees. To collect the resin, a cut is made in the trunk of the tree and after the sap has oozed out and hardened for several months it is collected. When these lumps of resin are burned, they give off a sweet perfume. The burning of frankincense has long been a part of worship. The Wise Men brought the Christ Child an expensive fragrance fit for the worship of God.
The last gift that the Wise Men presented to the Christ Child was Myrrh. Myrrh is a resin and is obtained in much the same way as frankincense. Myrrh was used to prepare bodies for burial. Although we might think myrrh an unlikely gift to give a baby, the Wise Men were honoring the new King with another of the most precious substances of their time. Myrrh’s symbolism foretold the death of Christ for our sins.
I wonder if we have enough patience in today’s world to follow a star for as long as it takes to find the special Christ Child? What are gifts we can give to the Christ Child? These thoughts remind me of the little boy who wanted to give the Christ Child a very special gift but had none to give. He thought and thought and then decided that he had something very special to give the Christ Child. He would give Jesus his heart.
I have shared this many times in my columns. Not all gifts cost money. We can give a smile, a hug, a listening ear, our time, a phone call and our prayers for those we love. We can provide these gifts to a stranger who might need love and comfort. If we do these things in the name of love, we are honoring the Christ Child. If we are wise, we will bring the Christ Child our hearts’ greatest treasures, laying them down at His feet with worship, love and wonder.
This I share with you for the new year. A new year is a blank book. It has 12 chapters and 365 pages. You are the author. My wish for you is that this year, you write the most beautiful story possible for yourself. …Goodwill Librarian
“Oh! What can we give to show that we care?
In every store window what trinkets are there?
Oh, there’s so much to buy upon every shelf…….But the best gift of all….is the gift of one’s self.
To all of those folks who share one’s self. Thank you! To all of those folks who will be sharing gifts of time, resources and talent in the new year, “ Thank You”
Follow the star with patience and hope. When you reach the Christ Child, give him the best gift of all, yourself.