Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Unused Gift of Christmas

written on Epiphany, January 6, 2021

Matthew 2:1-12

1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 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.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 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.” 9 When they 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. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 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. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

today I am reflecting on the gifts the Magi gave:
Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.

a precious metal,
Perhaps Mary used it to buy what was needed;
perhaps to pay for the room in the house (see vs 11).
Gold -- a gift for a king, the Messiah!

a perfume,
an incense used in worship. (see Exodus 30:34-35)
Perhaps Mary took it to the temple to consecrate the child;
perhaps to cover the other smells a baby makes.
Frankincense -- a gift for the divine, the Son of God!

a fragrant spice,
an embalming spice used at burial.
Perhaps Mary kept this gift;
perhaps she would find it hidden in a drawer
and be filled with dread by its scent 
reminded of the future that awaited her son.
Perhaps three decades later, 
Mary and the other women prepared it to anoint the dead body.
But it would not be needed.
The used gift of Christmas.
Myrrh -- a gift for the dead... but the Lord is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!

I wonder if Mary kept the Myrrh.
I wonder if the smell brought her a whole host of memories --
the angel's visit,
the trip to Bethlehem,
the night of his birth -- stable and shepherds and all,
the visit of the Magi and their gifts,
the joys and worries of watching him grow,
the power of his preaching,
the marvel of his healing,
the depth of his suffering,
her pain at his death,
the wonder of his rising.

thank you for the unused gift of Christmas.
Help me live into its resurrection hope!

The above reflection/prayer was inspired by listening to the offering today of Pray As You Go.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Sharing A Prayer for the New Year

I read this prayer online today and found it helpful:

God of all time,
help us enter the New Year quietly,
thoughtful of who we are to ourselves and to others,
mindful that our steps make an impact
and our words carry power.
May we walk gently.
May we speak only after we have listened well.

Creator of all life,
help us enter the New Year reverently,
aware that you have endowed
every creature and plant, every person and habitat
with beauty and purpose.
May we regard the world with tenderness.
May we honor rather than destroy.

Lover of all souls,
help us enter the New Year joyfully,
willing to laugh and dance and dream,
remembering our many gifts with thanks
and looking forward to blessings yet to come.
May we welcome your lavish love.
In this new year, may the grace and peace of Christ bless us now and in the days ahead.

- written by Vinita Hampton Wright; offered by Douglas Ruschman

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