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The gift of worship

 

Today, January 6, is Epiphany, a holiday celebrated by Christians in remembrance of the wise men’s visit to the child Jesus. History tells us Jesus may have been about a year old at the time. Because the wise men, or Magi, were not of the Jewish faith, Epiphany holds significance for Gentiles. Jesus came to the Jewish people first, but we Gentiles were included in the glorious manifestation of God coming to earth.

The word epiphany has come to mean an insight into the meaning of something, a moment of revelation, usually as a result of a simple or commonplace event.

You remember the story of the wise men who traveled a long distance to find this Child who would be king. They searched the heavens for clues about His location. They eventually arrived in Jerusalem and asked the reigning king, Herod, if he could help them find the child. Guided by the star, they found Jesus with Mary and Joseph, and their joy was over flowing.

We have assumed the Magi found him on the same night the shepherds came to see the baby in the manager.  At least, that is the way our Christmas programs portray the scene, isn’t it? 

We have also assumed there were three of them because Matthew 2 mentions three gifts presented to the Christ Child, gold, frankenstein, and myrrh. It was a surprise to me when I actually searched the Scriptures to find there is no mention of how many wise men there really were.

There is something else we might overlook in the story of this strange visitation. Did you ever stop to think that there were not three gifts but four?

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11, emphasis mine) 

The first gift the Magi offered was their worship.

 The Jewish law instructed the people to come into Jehovah’s presence with an offering or a gift. I read in places like Exodus 23:15 and 34:20 how God said they should not come empty-handed.

As a child of God under the new covenant, I no longer have to bring the blood of bulls and goats.  A complete offering was made for me at the cross of Calvary.

Yet, when I come to God, my Father, I must not come empty-handed either.  The gift, the offering I bring is my sacrifice of praise. 

 Just like the wise men of old, I bow down and I worship.

 

Leave a comment.  I love hearing from you.

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Driving Incognito

Just a couple of months ago, late October, I said good-bye to an old friend, my 1993 Blue Cadillac Deville.  Sweet William and I had purchased it used in 2001 from a couple who only drove to Southeast Christian Church on Sundays.  Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that.  We did, however, feel like we got a great used car that had been cared for and had low mileage for its age.  It was big and roomy, had leather seats and a few bells and whistles, luxurious compared to what I was used to.  And it had horsepower!

At the time of purchase, my two granddaughters fit comfortably in the back seat.  When the grandson came along, there was plenty of room for all three of them.  People who rode with me often said, “This car sure rides nice.”  And it did.  I loved driving that big blue car.  We became friends.

I was fairly recognizable driving around my home town.  Not very many people drive light blue Cadis, so I was spotted easily. 

As the years and the mileage crept up on the Cadi, more repairs were needed.  It was in the shop so many times our auto repair guy at Chuck’s Automotive came to expect us regularly.  The last time the Cadi broke down on the side of the road this summer, I didn’t know whether to call Chuck or the county coroner. 

Bill and I began to think about looking for another car.   After trying out several makes, models, and sizes, we found a pretty little black Honda Accord, 2007 with low mileage.  It was another gently used car that we hoped would serve us for many years.

Now I’m driving incognito, no longer easily recognized as people pass me on the street.  Have you noticed how many black cars are on the road?  Do you know how many black cars are in the parking lots?  A bunch, let me tell you.  I stood beside one, pressing the key’s remote unlock button over and over while nothing happened.  “Is the battery already dead in this thing?”  I thought, quite exasperated.  Then I discovered it was not my car. 

Recently I was walking through the church parking lot looking for my black car in the dark of night, pressing the button over and over hoping the lights would flash where I could see them.  Several cars looked promising until I realized people were in them with their lights on ready to exit.

It’s embarrassing.

I’ve been reading Matthew and Luke, reliving the story of the first Christmas. I find it so fascinating that God concealed Himself in the womb of a young virgin. His birth, though miraculous for certain, was still quite ordinary in most respects. Think of it – God Incognito!  The glory of the Almighty God was hidden, disguised, and undetected by most. 

Scripture tells us God revealed Himself to a choice few in the days surrounding his birth:  Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, Simeon, and Anna.  After that, Jesus lived an undetected life for about 30 years, walking the earth disguised and hidden.  Do you know how many Jewish boys ran along the paths around Galilee, how many were budding carpenters, hammering out wooden creations? 

People watched him grow up, become a teenager, take on his manhood, and yet they didn’t recognize that He was God incognito. John 1:10 tells us He was in the world, and though the world was made by God through Him, it did not recognize Him.

Just a few verses down, however, John says, “We beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” (verse 14b).

Ah yes, God is still willing to reveal Himself to those who have eyes to see.

There is a funny thing about my little black Honda. It recognizes me when I push the unlock button. It flashes its lights at me even though I may not always see it.

God recognizes those who are searchng, those looking for something they think they need, somthing they hope will satisfy.  And all the time God is flashing His Light at them as if to say, “I’m right here!” 

Over and over in the Bible God says, “Call unto me and I will answer . . . ”  It is His assurance that He does not want to remain incognito any more.  He wants to be found, to be recognized as the Savior who came in mystery, only to reveal His glory and His love on the cross.