Monday, Jan. 6, will be Epiphany and St. John’s will again host an Epiphany Celebration for the Episcopal Churches in the Melbourne area. Our preacher will be our own Susan Davidson. Make sure this is on your calendar!
Epiphany celebrates the visit of the “Magi” or “Wise Men” to the baby Jesus. They were certainly not Kings, in spite of the beloved carole, and we don’t know how many there were, although the popular assumption is that there were three because three gifts are mentioned: gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11, click here to read the whole story).
I like the implications of the gifts that are specified. The text in Matthew actually allows that there might have been other gifts, but he chose to point out the gold, frankincense and myrrh, and I don’t think that was an accident. Gold is a gift for a King and points to Jesus as King. Frankincense is an incense used by priests, pointing to Jesus role as priest, making the offering that forgives sin. Myrrh is a perfumed ointment used in preparation of bodies for burial, prefiguring Jesus’ death and burial.
Enhancing the significance of these gifts is that they are given by non-Jews. They would not carry the Jewish commitment to the Messianic prophecies, but by some means, they recognized what they were seeing, and were sympathetic enough to avoid a return visit to Herod, which they learned in a dream would put Jesus at risk. But the visit of the magi reminds us that Jesus is for all — including you and me!
This column appeared in the January 5, 2020 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.