Thursday, January 06, 2011


"The Magis" by Isabella Collette

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 2:1-12

TO CHEW ON: "When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him." Matthew 2:10-11

No doubt during the Christmas season just past you saw a dramatization or tableau which included the wise men. These exotic Christmas story characters were Magi or astrologers. My Bible notes call their area of expertise "a sophisticated science in this era." But they were far more than occultic star-gazers. Their journey to find a star-announced king teaches us much about abandoned and reckless worship:

1. They were men of the upward gaze. Because their area of study was the stars, their sensibilities were already attuned to what was beyond and outside of them. Though in our day we might label their study occultic or New Age, their attitude of receptivity to the supernatural made them prime candidates for the epiphany.

2. They were men of faith. Imagine embarking on a weeks-to-months'-long journey across middle eastern deserts and wastelands on the strength of a star! This bit: "When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy," makes me think their faith was tested. (Maybe there were a few cloudy night or the lights of Jerusalem obscured the star's brilliance and they questioned, Are we really on the right track?) Otherwise, why the emotion when the star became visible again?

3. They were men of unselfconscious worship: "They fell down and worshiped Him." No attempt to preserve dignity here. These elegant, dignified, well-heeled Magi "fell down" as in prostrated themselves before a child found in the humblest of settings.

4. They were men of extravagant gifts. When you were thinking of gifts to give your family and friends last Christmas, did you ask yourself, What do they need or What could they use? I know I did. The wise men not so much. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were gifts one would give to royalty — more symbolic than practical and certainly extravagant. They remind me of the alabaster jar of perfume the sinful woman poured on Jesus' head.

They remind me too of the costliest, most precious gift we can give: ourselves.

"My son (my daughter) give me your heart..." - Proverbs 23:26

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship" - NIV Romans 12:1

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You the example of the worshiping Magi. Help me to practice their upward focus, their faith, their worship and their extravagant giving. Amen.

MORE: The Feast of Epiphany

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany ("the phrase religious epiphany is used when a person realizes their faith or when they are convinced that an event or happening was really caused by a deity or being of their faith" - Epiphany in Wikipedia).

In many countries today, January 6th, is the day of the Christmas celebration.

The liturgy for today begins with the collect:

"O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."
[Correction: For any watchful readers who noticed yesterday's focus verse didn't match with the reading passage - my mistake. I goofed! I linked Ephesians 3 (which was the right reading) and then somehow based the devotion on Philippians 3:20-21.  I don't know how that happened! Maybe someone needed to read about heaven]

Bible Drive-Thru

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