The following is the opening from 1/4/09's sermon.
We three kings of Orient are, Bearing gifts we traverse a far.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain, Following yonder star.
It sounds simple enough. And such a story is clearly worthy of early celebration. Early because officially Epiphany is not until January 6. Of the 12 days of Christmas we are really only at day 10… so be sure to check your boxes for your 10 lords a-leapin’.
One version of Christmas tradition lore is that we exchange gifts in honor of the 3 kings – or magi if you prefer – bringing gifts to the Christ child. If we really wanted to imitate the gifts each and every gift we gave would extol a virtue of the recipient other than ‘you like movies’ or ‘I got this free from the bank’.
Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain, Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never Over us all to reign.
The current equivalent of this gift would be… well, gold. Or a safe cd making about 6%.
The gold was a gift for royalty. It symbolized an everlasting presence and longevity to the rule of the one it is given.
Frankincense to offer have I, Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising all men raising, Worship Him, God on high.
The current equivalent of this gift would be maybe a stole.
Our reformed Protestant tradition does not have a lot of use for incense. The stole would represent the priestly duties of the recipient much like the gift of incense does. However, in the case of this gift to Jesus, it also represents that he himself should be worshiped.
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume Breathes a life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing sighing, bleeding, dying, Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
The current equivalent of this would be embalming fluid...pick one – formaldehyde, methanol, ethanol…
THAT’s not Christmas talk…
It is a hard, cold slap of reality… lest we forget that the visit of the magi is followed quite closely by the massacre of all the male children in the region under the age of two.
Lent, after all, is only 51 days away...