January 6, 2019 – Feast of the Epiphany

Part of my time this week has been taken up with writing Thank You cards for various gifts I received from friends, family, and parishioners. While doing so I remembered a gift I was given for Christmas 25 years ago. Have you ever had the experience of receiving a truly strange gift? For Christmas 1993 I received a gift so unusual that it caused me to ask, “Why?” and “What was he thinking?” I am glad that Ron wasn’t with me when I opened it. It was a commemorative plate from the Franklin mint of dogs playing poker. It’s a Christmas gift I will never forget!

In today’s gospel we hear how the magi came bearing gifts. What a wonderful honor to have been able to help out the Holy Family in a time of need. This morning I would like to look at the what the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh tell us about Jesus and invite us to think about our own gifts.

• GOLD was a traditional gift for a king. This gift symbolizes that Jesus would one day become the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
• FRANKINCENSE was a gift for a priest and was used in temple worship. The role of a priest was to open the way to God for people. Priests would offer sacrifices of animals, grain or fruit in the temple. The sacrifice Jesus would offer would be his body on the cross. Frankincense also symbolizes the divinity of Jesus. Besides being human, Jesus was also the Son of God and worthy of our worship.
• MYRRH was one of the spices used in preparing a body for burial. Myrrh symbolizes that Jesus was also human and like all of us would one day die.

We all love getting presents at Christmas — even a plate of dogs playing poker. Every once a while a young child will raise a question that most of us take for granted. “If it is Jesus’ birthday, how come we get presents instead of Jesus?” So What gifts can we bring to the Christ Child? The magi brought costly gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. How useful those gifts were when Jospeh, Mary, and Jesus had to flee to Egypt.

• Let us offer him OUR gold this year…our tithes and offerings with which he has so richly blessed us, that the work of his kingdom might grow and prosper.
• Let us offer him OUR frankincense this new year…our worship together each Sunday and each day of our lives.
• Let us bring to him OUR myrrh…our own gifts and talents and abilities to be used in his service.

An old poem puts it this way:

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb.
And if I were a wise man I would do my part.
But what I can I give him, I give him my heart