Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lessons from the Magi- (Matthew 2:1-12)

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 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." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: `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.'" Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 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." 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. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 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. 

This is one of my favorite Bible stories, how wise men from the East came to bring gifts to the Christ child.  We have all read and heard this story since childhood yet, meditating upon it at the beginning of this new year, several helpful lessons  come to mind . Here are some I hope to apply in my daily life:

1. Keep Your Eyes Open

The wise men had their eyes open! They looked at the sky and saw a star rising which intrigued them, and was the catalyst for their journey! Often we live life oblivious to the things around us. In our busyness we miss the beauty of a sunrise, the starlit sky, the smile of a child, expressions of sorrow or joy in those we share our lives with, the signs that God surrounds us with to make us aware of his presence and care! Jesus speaking to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22 g said these solemn words;   "anoint your eyes with salve, that you  may see." , a clear indication they were blind to what was clear for all to see! This year, keep your eyes open, take a moment to look around, to notice! Ask God to help you see in every circumstance what he intends to show you.

2    2. Mind the Word                                                                                                                    

This story illustrates something which is very true in our life! We need the guidance and light which only the Word of God can give. Christians speak of Scripture as God’s written word, yet often we fail to go to it for the direction we need. 

The wise men, followed a star to where it would take them, they were able to ascertain it would lead them to a king! However it was the words of the prophet Micah which led them to the exact place where the child would be born. We too are in a journey and though we may have a sense of our direction, we need the clarity and the guidance of the word of God. We need to be reminded of the promises, the blessings, the admonitions it contains for our benefit and wisdom.  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” ( Psalm 119:105), “The words I speak are Spirit and Life” ( John 6:63).

3    3. Act on What You Know           

I have always wondered how it was that people from afar, a different religion and culture traveled thousands of miles despite limited knowledge to seek a king, whereas those who were waiting for his birth, and had intimate knowledge of the prophecies stood idly. Sometimes we take for granted what we have! Often we fail to act on what we know, we do not do the things we know to be right, we are silent when we have to speak, are passive when we are called to action in a particular area of life!

 “A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle…The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention..."

Khalil Gibran
There is a lot we do not know or understand about the world, about God, about ourselves, but there are some things we do know!  Let’s put that knowledge, that mustard seed of faith into action and see where it will lead us in this New Year! The magi acted on what they knew, and their journey led them to new experiences and understanding of God.                       

4    4. Make Worship a Priority

After a long and perilous travels, one would have thought that these men from the East, seekers of wisdom, students of the stars would have been full of questions for Joseph and Mary, yet it is worship, homage to the Christ child that occupies their attention. Worship was the priority in this story, as they knelt and offered the gifts they brought! 

Sometimes our religion becomes something of custom, tradition, social interaction. We come together as the temple of God’s spirit, are in his presence as he moves among us, come to the Table where Christ offers himself to us and…we fail to  worship! Jesus said, the Father is looking for “worshipers who will do so in spirit and truth”. Our liturgy reminds us to praise him with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven” who sing their unending hymn of praise. 

Make worship a priority in your life! In your private devotions, when you gather for prayer or Eucharist, remember the Magi and their lesson…they came to Bethlehem to worship and bring gifts.
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.



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