The three wise men had traveled long and far after a star; but more importantly after the promise that lay underneath that star. They came to worship that promise; not only with their words and actions, but with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. In our 21st century world, only one of these bears any real meaning. If we open up a nice-looking watch on Christmas morning that’s great; but if it’s a gold-plated watch, wow! The other two gifts symbolized the same sort of thing in their time: frankincense was an expensive oil used in special religious rites, and myrrh was tree sap resin fashioned into lavish ointments.
The point being: these gentlemen brought their very best to the Lord that day. They didn’t short-change the baby Jesus with a second-tier gift; a token present like the fruit cake the boss plops on your desk every December. Each of these kings gave their own personal best, rather than assuming the others would “come through” with their gift so they wouldn’t have to be as extravagant with theirs. They each brought their very best to the Lord.
I’m struck by this image as we enter the Advent season and prepare to celebrate the arrival of God’s son in our midst. Truly this is holy time when we, in so many ways, embrace the gift of our savior. Because indeed, Jesus is a gift to each of us. He is a gift of unconditional love, immutable grace, and showing us the way to true kingdom-living.
This is a gift we can and should celebrate – and not just with red and green, Christmas carols, special worship services, and gift-giving on Christmas morning. This celebration should last year-round – namely, striving to do and be the very things we are so grateful to Jesus for.
Nearly a year ago, in my January Postscripts letter, I shared in my “Pastor Top Ten” that I believe we in the church are called to respond to God’s amazing grace and love through our time, our talent and our treasure. If the Wise Men call us to follow their lead and bring our best to the Lord, what might this look like?
- How do we bring our best to the Lord with our TIME? Are we present in the gathered body of Christ more often than not?
- How do we bring our best to the Lord with our TALENTS? Every one of us has some skill or ability we can put to use to help further the church’s purpose and mission. Are we utilizing those to their fullest extent?
- How do we bring our best to the Lord with our TREASURE? Are we being “generous givers” as we support the church’s mission and vision?
We’re not a whole lot different from those Wise Men, if you think about it. We’re all on a journey together, seeking Christ, not quite sure where the journey will take us. But we know this: we know Christ lies at the end of our travels, and we know that we make the journey to Christ together. Let us never cease, as we prepare to make the journey to the manger and beyond, to bring our best to the Lord! Blessings to each of you in this holy season!