It’s been a rough year. Some of us have lost so much. Lives, livelihoods.. but dammit, we can’t lose hope. Covid has turned our world upside down, but there have also been some bright spots, like really “seeing” people.
But as the year closes, gratitude and Gift-giving are on some minds. I thought a reflection on the first “Christmas” gifts might boost us all. Who doesn’t like a gift?
I’ll start with this: the gifts given to Jesus are gifts for each of us.
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great delight. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they fell down and worshiped. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2: 10,11)
Gold: A gift symbolic of kingship and authority.We may see no royal crown on our heads, but neither did the “King of Kings” or “son of God.” But if we dare believe the story that begins, “In the beginning” and ends “and they reigned forever and ever,” (aka the bible), we might also believe that if Jesus was son of God, we too are children of God.
It’s a message repeated throughout that book, and the implications are dramatic.
Can we acknowledge the nobility of a Janitor just as a Prime Minister? Or do we give the best seats to those with the highest “standing?” (Jesus hit it directly: ‘Who is greater? He that sits at the table, or he who serves? And yet I’m here serving you.. (verse)).
It’s easy to give deference to someone of fame or power. The deeper challenge is to give the same respect and honor to all.
How different would our policies and care systems be.. And who would dare war with another?
Frankincense: A gift symbolic of divinity.You may feel anything but divine, but this is part of the story. Sons, Daughters, People of God are inherently Gods themselves, right? Jesus spoke this to the religious elite of his day and got serious push back. Even, the “Son of God” claim was part of the last-straw reason for which the Pharisees pushed crucifixion.
But with great power comes great responsibility..Incense is noted in one bible verse as prayers of people rising to God. Back in the biblical day it used to be One Man, in One Place on One Day who could come near God. (the “high priest.–remember the crazy outfit worn by the man who opened the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark?
That’s a big part of the whole Jesus story, especially the crucifixion:
No More Separation from God.
Have you ever activated this power? Or felt like it was for someone else, or that you needed some other medium to reach God?
We can All be there, Anytime, Anywhere..
3. Myrrh: A gift symbolic of our mortality, humanity, suffering.
We daily face our mortality. Life is so fragile and precious, my insides turn just witnessing my kids get a cut. And I don’t heal as fast as I used to. Some wrinkles don’t leave, and a white crown can touch any of us with age.
But I think of Thor in the first Thor movie (2011). He was bloodthirsty, full of arrogance, and according to Odin, “stupidity.” He only appreciated his power and position after losing everything.
Looking out for others, helping others, caring for ourselves (also so we can continue to serve others), humility.. these are deep wisdoms lost on immortal Greek gods.
What gifts will you ignite in the new year?
Everything Jesus received was everything he used.
He knew his standing and position, and not even the wilderness temptations, each starting with a direct attack on his identity (“if you are the son of God… do this or that”) made him stumble.
He was in constant intercession for others–manifesting outwardly in acts of compassionate service during the days, or fervent prayers we glimpsed at night (verse).
Can we also seek and speak good on behalf of others, regardless of their race, gender, age, social standing, beliefs..?
The more we consider our “gifts,” the more we might appreciate the wonder around us, and be in awe of the fellow people we inhabit this precious earth with.
All Kings, divine, cloaked in mortality. <3
Getting ready for the hard lockdown.. Are you all doing ok? If you’d like inspiration for along the way, follow the <3blog for alerts when a new post/encouragement/woke moment is up. (Sign up also for the Newsletter to receive a pre-release of my upcoming, “Ready for Crazy: Pocket Guide to the End of the World.”) <3
- God Wouldn’t Fly First Class: 3 Surprising Reasons the Streets are Gold in Heaven
- 6 Christmas Gifts from the Universe
- Get Hard or Get Soft: Life Lesson from Gold
- Humble Rebels: 5 Ways to Have a Mary & Joseph Spirit this Christmas
-Gold lamps over dark water via Gian D on Unsplash
-Gold toilet in the Guggenheim, photo via The New Yorker
-Gold hand via Muillu on Unsplash
-Subversive Citizenship, form the Book, Subversive Jesus by Craig Greenfield. pic by me.