Our focus for this class =
What would you bring?
"In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ "
The wise men - who are not Jews, being "from the East" - are directed to Bethlehem by Jewish priests who recognize the fulfillment of an ancient prophesy. Paranoid and cruel King Herod craftily commands them to locate this threat to his throne, and to return to him with the address. He also directs the slaughter of all baby boys, to wipe out any threat (which is why the Holy Family flees to the safety of Egypt.) The wise men are warned in a dream to ignore Herod and head straight home after finding and honoring the child-king of the Jews.
"When the wise men had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
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."
So, say you're a wise person, and there's literally a guiding star leading you to an amazing leader, and you feel compelled to give this royal child a present. What would you bring?
Tradition and song explains their choice of gifts:
Verse 2 – We Three Kings
Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
over us all to reign.
frankincense (important for temple rituals and anointing priests,
pointing toward Jesus' role as teacher)
Verse 3 – We Three Kings
Frankincense to offer have I;
incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising, voices raising,
worshipping God on high.
& myrrh (foretelling the spices used to embalm a body for burial, aka Jesus pre-Easter)
Verse 4 – We Three Kings
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone cold tomb.
But what would YOU bring?
What is valuable enough to you to be a King's gift?
(Money, some astonishing object or precious item, or maybe something-or-other that is priceless - like faith, or friendship, or - what?)
And what is appropriate to support a Priest/teacher/community leader/activist?
(Supplies? Donations to worthy causes? Your skills?)
And how would you honor the life of Jesus, who died for you?
(Influential tweets or TikToks? A big banner? Your own life, well-lived? Expressions of kindness, of support "for the least of these" - of justice, hope, love?)
Ponder these questions! Pray! And listen. What answers do you hear, do you feel?
Will you bring these gifts to Jesus as your thoughtful New Year's resolutions for 2021?