By now, all your presents are opened and played with, and your family may be cleaning up and putting away some of the Christmas decorations. With everything that has been going on lately, I’m not sure if you’ll be going back to school yet or still doing work at home. But a new year is soon to begin, so we all pray that things will get back to some sort of “normal” soon for everyone’s sake. God is still watching over us and helping us to trust Him and not be afraid!
Although we don’t usually think about it too much, right after Christmas there is another important celebration: Epiphany. Epiphany marks the coming of the Wise Men to see the Baby Jesus. You may have heard or sung the song, “We Three Kings” which was written about this Bible story. You can read about the Wise Men coming in Matthew 2: 1-12. (There’s a little more to the story that I haven’t included, so you might want to read those verses.) You remember they had followed the bright star in the eastern sky, so they could come and worship the Newborn King. Next to Easter, Epiphany is the oldest church festival – even older than Christmas Day being celebrated as a church festival. It is sometimes called “The Christmas of the Gentiles” since all three Wise Men were not Jews; they were Gentiles – like you and me. Now, it took them a while to travel to where Jesus was with Mary and Joseph, so they didn’t really see Him in the stable in Bethlehem as we see in most nativity scenes. The Bible text tells us they went to the house where Jesus was with His parents.
You may also remember from the story that they brought Baby Jesus gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The three gifts were very valuable and had a spiritual meaning: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death. These valuable items were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in the ancient world: gold was a precious metal fitting for a king, frankincense was perfume or incense fitting for a God, and myrrh was an anointing oil fitting for a Savior. How appropriate these three things were for Jesus as He lived His life even though the Wise Men probably were not aware of that fact.
As we begin the New Year, let us all pray that we can renew our hope and trust that things will be better. The Covid vaccine will certainly help stop the spread of this virus and help people and their lives be better. Remember all those who have lost friends and family, those who help to take care of the sick, and those whose lives have been affected by the closing of many businesses. Then, just as the Wise Men did, take time to worship the Lord and thank Him for all He is doing to make things better. Live your lives the best you know how and do what you can to help others. Then you are doing the work of the Lord too, and He will be so pleased! Happy New Year and Happy Epiphany!
Let’s say a New Year’s prayer. Father God, thank You for sending Jesus to us. Thank You for sending the Wise Men with their gifts to remind us to worship Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Please be with all those who are suffering because of Covid and help us to be the best person we can be for You this new year. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Ann Moody is a retired pastor, formerly of the Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.