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Traveling with God: Week of January 6, 2019

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw 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. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

 

Traveling with God Week of: January 6, 2019
Devotion

Every year we read this passage just after Christmas, and each year I am struck by something different in the text. For me this is one of the beauties of the lectionary - we revisit the same texts again and again, and yet each time the Holy Spirit breathes new life into its meaning. 

This year I found myself focusing on the gifts given to the Christ child - gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Tradition holds that each of these gifts has significant meaning - gold is given to indicate that Jesus is a king, frankincense is used by temple priests, indicating that Jesus will fill a priestly role in the world, and myrrh is a spice used in the burial rituals of the time, which indicates even at his birth, the significance of his death. There are perhaps other gifts that would be more suitable for a newborn and his mother (diapers or prepared meals, anyone?) but these gifts are given to show that the visitors understood Jesus' importance to the world. 

As we leave the traditional season of gift-giving and enter a new year, I wonder what kind of gifts we, ourselves, might bring to the Christ child this year. Jesus doesn't need our gold, frankincense and myrrh (good thing since I doubt any of us have those things) but there are things he asks of us, that we could and should give joyfully to him. If we were to give three gifts to Jesus throughout the new year, I wonder what they could be? 

For myself, I have narrowed it down to three things - love, faith, obedience. I intend to honor the Christ child throughout the whole year with my love for God and neighbor, my faith that God's presence is in all things and therefore patience that all things will be worked out in God's timing, and my obedience to the word of God in my everyday life. These are the gifts I bring and lay tenderly at Jesus' feet. Perhaps these are the right gifts for you to give this year, or perhaps there are others - joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, the list could go on. 

I invite you to spend some time thinking of what gifts you would like to bring the Christ child this year, and make them an important part of your journey with God. 

Prayer

Christ child, star child, help me to come and pay you homage as we start this new year. Help me to discern what gifts I might bring you, and to freely give them out of love and devotion. Amen.