From the Del Rosa UMC Monthly Newsletter: The DRUMBEAT
The Pastor's section: The Cadence
Welcome to Epiphany season in the church!
Epiphany is that time when the church recognizes the awakenings of the soul and the people for the Christ who has come. We come and bring gifts to share with the Christ child, since he shared himself so completely with us.
The season is a time of new discoveries. I learned a little something new this past Advent season as I went to “The Nativity” one afternoon with Anna, so that we could hear the Christmas story again in a new way. I was reminded of the Epiphany of the shepherds and the magi as they heard the story of the Christ in a new light. There was a revealing statement about gifts in the movie, as one of the shepherds told Mary, “We all have a gift to bring to the world, yours is the child in your womb.”
Epiphany began as a season of gifts, and to some extent we celebrate it as such today as we sing through “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, which are the twelve days after Christmas until Epiphany. The season comes to use through the long centuries as the time when the magi arrived at the house where Jesus was with his parents, bringing the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gifts have been said to represent the future of the Christ child. Gold to be the King of Kings. Frankincense to be the High Priest for all time. Myrrh to represent the death that Jesus would die.
I have heard it another way, that all of the gifts are gifts of preparing for death. The gold is pay for the entrance to the eternal life. We have heard many myths over the years that tell us of paying the price for the afterlife, including the boatman on the river Styx in Roman culture, and the placing of gold coins on the eyes of Norsemen to pay their way into Valhalla, and even the Egyptians and the gold that went into the grave with them to provide for the afterlife. The frankincense is used to burn during the embalming of the body to keep the stench away, and prior to that during the salting of the body when it was prepared for the final burial, and was a procedure reserved for kings. The final gift of myrrh was one of the elements of the embalming fluid used during the final wrapping of the body.
Strange to fixate on the death of the Christ at a time like this when we are beginning the Christian year, and haven’t even entered into the days of Lent where we begin to look to the death of the Christ, but I learned something new this Advent and Epiphany, opening my ears to the words of others, and trying to hear the story of the Christ once again in a new light.
I hope this Christian year brings new discoveries into your life, opening your eyes and ears to new ways of being with the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, The Eternal High Priest, The Baby Jesus, who is The Savior of the World.