Saturday, January 3, 2015

What if the Wise Men Had Not Brought Gifts?

What if the Wise Men had not brought gifts? For many Western Christians the tree has already been taken down, or at least wrapping paper has been cleared away. Many Orthodox Christians, in the United States celebrate Christmas January 7. Globally this commemorates the baptism of Christ.

January 6, Epiphany, is observed by Christians as the coming of the Magi, a light to the Gentiles. In St. Matthew’s Gospel 2:1-12: “after Jesus was born in Bethlehem (we don’t know how long after), wise men came from the East . . . .”  They observed a star and when they found the child, “on entering the house . . . they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”


But what if the Magi had not brought gifts? Would we not have had the frenzy of Christmas (holiday) shopping on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday? Would our attention not have been focused on how much profits were higher or lower as compared to a year ago? On what bargains we found or missed?


But we did buy gifts, and gave and received them. And we gave generously to help those in need, on “Giving Tuesday” and throughout the Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa seasons. We gave gifts to each other, those we love. Although wrappings are gone, the love goes on.


We will need the love and the light as we begin this New Year. We need to share both generously because the world needs both. In the Matthew story, King Herod heard about the wise men from the East and asked about the child.  Reading through vs. 18 we see secrecy, and fear of losing power, and anger and finally an infuriated ruler who killed all the children around Bethlehem two years or under. That’s what fear and power can do. Then came the weeping for the children. Parents could not be consoled.


We begin a new year. What was the gift buying about anyway? How might we remember the Gift of God, the love, and claim to walk outside together in the light so that there be no more fear of each other, no more abuse of power, no more sons and daughters dying. Let’s claim the gift of not being afraid of each other. Let’s love one another across all divisions. Let us walk in the light together.


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