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  • David Carlson

1026: We do not have gold or any other rich gifts. More important, we have ourselves.

Updated: Jan 6

Day 1026 Friday, January 6, 2023

We do not have gold or any other rich gifts. More important, we have ourselves. We have simple acts of kindness to share all year long.


(Herod)


On Sunday we celebrate Jesus' coming out party. Born in a stable surrounded by nameless but hopefilled shepherds, field hands, people like us, animals and angels. His birthplace quiet and warm.


Only a few days old, there is a stirring of the political elite and three kings (should we call them wise men, astrologers, magi?) descend on the Roman ruled city of Jerusalem. They're looking for a newborn king and have come bearing precious gifts. They have observed the star and followed it.


Curious travellers, strange and wonderful. They terrify Herod who has fought so bitterly to become king - sacrificing his soul and his people to the Romans. I can hear him yelling "This is an outrage I tell you, I've lied, cheated and murdered to get this throne... and now someone else has been chosen... a baby... we'll see about that! Guards! "


On Sunday we celebrate Jesus' Epiphany -- his reveal to the world in the form of his visit from three wise men who represent the global nature of goodness and truth. They are out-of-town gentiles and the first to bring gifts.


It was not an easy journey:

A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of the year

For a journey, and such a long journey:

The ways deep and the weather sharp,

The very dead of winter.'


writes T.S. Eliot in his poem "The Coming of the Magi"


Once they met this child they were forever changed "no longer at ease." The old gods were dead - replaced by a little child in a temporary home. In the words of the poet:


All this was a long time ago, I remember,

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This: were we led all that way for

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

But had thought they were different; this Birth was

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With an alien people clutching their gods.


Here's the Gospel Reading for Sunday: Matthew 2:1-12


1 When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem,

2 saying, “Where is the newborn king? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

3 When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:

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

7 Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.

8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”

9 After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.

10 They were overjoyed at seeing the star,

11 and 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.

12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.



As we go back to normal days after celebrating Christmas, may our life be not as normal as before. We may not be sure of what will happen in the year 2023 -- but it certainly has started in chaos! But we shall overcome. The season of Christmas may have come to an end but let its message of hope, love, joy and peace remain in our hearts. We do not have gold or any other rich gifts. But we have ourselves. We have simple acts of kindness to share all year long.





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