January 5, 2021

Presbyterians Today, PC(USA)
Advent Christmas Devotionals 2020
"Let Us Light Candles"
The 12 Days of Christmas
On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord. 

Isaiah 60:1–6
Stay the course
We have come to the end of Christmastide on a day that is called “Twelfth Night” — a celebration on the eve of Epiphany that prepares for the Magi’s arrival and the presentation of their gifts to Jesus. I find myself reflecting on the Magi’s account in Scripture. Matthew tells us that when they saw Jesus, they presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Three gifts that over the years inspired greeting card artists to depict a Magi carrying each one.

But were there only three travelers from afar? In Isaiah we read about a “multitude of camels” on the journey. Now maybe these Magi didn’t master the art of packing lightly for a trip. What if, though, there were more than three Magi following that star?

The word “multitude” means a large number. If there were a large number of camels, then I believe there were more than the three learned men on this trip. What if there was a multitude of travelers, eager to see what this new star in the sky meant? What if the arduous journey led some to fall by the wayside? What if some in the multitude decided the journey just wasn’t worth it and turned back? What if some got sidetracked along the way by something better — a better village to stay in perhaps? What if, out of the many who wanted to see this thing God had done, only three faithful, die-hard travelers were rewarded and saw Jesus? 

On this Epiphany Eve, I wonder about our faith journeys? How committed are we? I wonder about the candles that will continue to light the world long after the star in the sky has vanished? Will we grow weary on the road serving God and turn back, never seeing fully God’s manifestation in the world? Or will we have enough faith to stay the course and be one of the few who will one day fall on our knees in awe and adoration, for before our eyes, we have seen the Christ Child?

God, I want to see your Son, Jesus. I want to pay him homage. I want to stay the course and not grow weary on this journey of faith. Give me the strength and courage I need so that I do not give up or give in. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Go deeper
Celebrate tonight by lighting the Christ candle from the Advent wreath. If you have white Christmas lights, string them somewhere in your house. With the three gifts the Magi gave to Jesus in mind, think about what three gifts you would give to the Christ Child this day.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009
770-751-0033 www.alpharettapres.com