Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Meditation On The Wise Men

One of my favorite carols is about the wise men who came to Bethlehem following the star. They came from the orient. They were learned men. The were astrologers. When they saw the new star, signifying the birth of a very important child, they were intrigued.

The wise men were humble enough to know when something astonishing was happening and by interpretation at some point they knew it was the birth of the Kind of the Jews. Before the journey they prepared their gifts to be presented to this king. Each of the three, picked a present to carry on what must have been a long, dangerous journey with only the star to guide them. They were in constant movement. They slept when they could, mainly in the daytime because they had to follow the star's light at night. They were tired, dirty, hungry at times but they persisted because they believed that they would find what they sought if they continued.

Finally, the wise men arrive in Jerusalem. At that time the area was under Roman authority. King Herod was ruler. And, if you read Mattthew chapter 2 you will find out that he was very mean and devious.

The wise men are important enough that they get an audience with King Herod, himself. "Where is the King of the Jews?" they ask. This causes pandemonium to break out. Herod calls in his people: the chief priests and scribes and asks where Christ should be born.

The answer is Bethlehem, in the land of Judah. "...for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel." The wise men receive this and are directed onward on their journey. I don't imagine they spend much more time in Jerusalem. They are very focused in their quest. There journey continues.

At last the star stops moving. They rejoice. They know they are at the right location. They go inside and they see the young child and Mary, his mother. They fall down and worship the child, Christ the Lord. Then they present their gifts each one brings a very good gift.

Being wise, they do not return to visit Herod (see Matthew, chapter 2) but go back to their country another way. The wise men came prepared to worship and to give.

Finding the child was worth the time, energy, danger and journey because they were filled with joy and got to experience the presence of the miracle of the child born King of the Jews.

Some of you have been on journeys that lead you away from finding the Christ child, but now you are hungry, thirsty and tired and you are looking for something out of this world. You are ready to start the journey. Prepare your gift and prepare your heart to follow the light, as the wise men did long ago. You won't be disappointed at journey's end.

The Greatest Gift

Christmas is in the air. Gift giving is all around us. In the stores, on the shelves. We are thinking of others and what we can give them. The perfect gift for the person is what we would really like to give.

For some people on your list, the perfect gift might just be a phone call. They'd like to hear your voice. For some without food, they would like you to put canned and other non-perishables in the bins provided. I love that there are so many opportunities to give. I like to see overflow in those bins because I know there are hungry families and those who will eat and be glad over these offerings.

There may be somebody on your list who you need to forgive. Forgiveness would be a gift you could give to God and to yourself. We all need to let go and grow larger by the gift of forgiveness. We know that one of the greatest gifts we have received at Christmas, if we are believers, is the gift of forgiveness.

We have been forgiven so we can extend forgiveness to others. It doesn't matter if we don't feel like it we can reach way down in the bag of grace and be given the moment to pray like this.

"Father, because I have been forgiven by your son Jesus Christ who died on the cross, I want you to help me to forgive x from my heart."

When we act out of the gift we have received at Christmas of salvation and love and the incredible humility of God delivering us to himself in such a small package as Jesus, helpless, sinless, but fully God we can only say "thank you" and fall on our knees and worship, no matter how far we have wandered or how long the journey has taken us to get to this moment in time.

My prayer for each of you this Christmas is that you will receive the perfect gift of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS

into your life, into your family, into your community. I pray that you will have fresh eyes to see the work that is there for you to do. I pray that you will get together with others and reach out in love to those who need to know that Christian love is real because God really is real and God is love. I pray that you will be blessed as you work and as you give to extend His Kingdom down here in this world that needs the perfect gift of Christ more than every before.

What is your part to bring God's perfect gift into real time?
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights... " James 1:17