Feast of the Epiphany

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On entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11

Consider the gifts offered by the magi. What gift will you give to Jesus this Christmas season?

Going Deeper

Read Matthew 2:9-12.

While gifts of diapers, baby clothes, and a donkey-compatible car seat may seem more practical, I’m sure the valuable gifts brought by the magi came in handy as the young family traveled to and settled in Egypt. Far beyond their monetary value, though, the gifts of the magi had great symbolic meaning.

Gold is a symbol of royalty. The gift of gold pointed to Jesus’ kingship.

Frankincense was used in prayer and worship. Frankincense was given in recognition of Jesus’ divinity and his priestly role as mediator between us and the Father.

Myrrh was an oil used in embalming. The gift of myrrh foreshadowed Jesus’ death.

If Jesus were born today in the United States, instead of two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, the gifts may have been a little different. Perhaps the wise men would have brought Jesus a presidential seal made of solid gold, a kneeler, and a headstone.

During the last week of Advent, I invited you to consider which of the titles for Jesus most resonated with you. (Flip back to Dec. 20 to refresh your memory.) What gifts would you choose to symbolize the names for Jesus that mean the most to you?

Here are some of the things I might give Jesus:

 

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Epiphany Reflection: Looking for Jesus

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Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

Matthew 2:1b-2

Is there something in your life right now that is pulling you away from Jesus? What can you do to take a step away from that thing and toward Jesus?

Going Deeper

Read Matthew 2:1-8.

I remember one year during college, when my roommates and I were decorating our apartment for Christmas. I set up my nativity set in the living room. One of my roommates noticed that Baby Jesus was missing. I explained that Advent was a time of waiting and preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus. In order to stay true to the spirit of Advent, I would wait until Christmas Eve to put Jesus in the manger. I also revealed to my roommate that I had hidden the infant Jesus figurine somewhere in the room. She proceeded to search all over the room, trying to find Jesus. My heart ached, because I wanted so badly to help her find Jesus—not just the figurine, but Jesus, my best friend—but I didn’t think I could. I felt like she needed to find Jesus without my help, so that her faith would truly be hers, and not just a faith borrowed from someone else.

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During Advent 2015 I set up my nativity set in a different place than usual. When Christmas Eve arrived, I couldn’t remember where I had put the baby Jesus figurine. As I was searching for Jesus, my mind went back to that experience in my college apartment. I thought about the days and weeks leading up to Christmas, 2015. The hectic schedule that seems unavoidable during December had pulled me away from my normal routine of prayer. It seemed that my difficulty finding the infant Jesus figurine reflected the distance that had come between Jesus and me, because I wasn’t spending time with him.

The good news is that, in real life, Jesus doesn’t hide from us. He pursues us. If we are distant from him, it is because we have moved away. Because he is always pursuing us, we don’t have to search for Jesus. To find him, all we have to do is turn around.

I challenge you to spend ten minutes with Jesus today. Find a quiet place without distractions. (If your home is not a quiet place, try your car. If your garage is not a quiet place, drive a few blocks away.) Imagine yourself resting in the arms of Jesus. You don’t have to say or do anything. Just rest in his unconditional love.