Monday, December 11, 2017

The Gifts of the Magi

With the bright and morning star to guide their way, three wise men set out to discover the Christ child, the much-heralded birth of the Savior right there in Bethlehem. And these wise men brought with them gifts. No, not pacifiers and diapers; they brought with them gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

Strange gifts, indeed, for a baby, but...what ever happened to them?

These were not cheap gifts. They were not particularly practical gifts, at least to most of us, but they also were not cheap gifts. It's interesting, at best - weird, at least - that we don't seem to see these gifts anywhere else in the Gospels. 

Every time we see Mary and Joseph, they're still poor. They come to the Temple and present their son bearing the poor man's offering, a couple of pigeons. We don't hear about any upgrades being made to their Nazareth homes. We don't hear about them suddenly becoming generous and giving to their friends. Joseph didn't quit his job; much later, we hear the crowds murmur, "Isn't this the carpenter's son?" That means Joseph was still a carpenter, even though somewhere in his fairly recent past, there were tremendous, amazing, lavish gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

We don't hear about the gifts being put in the treasury of Jesus's work, a treasury that we're told that Judas was in charge of. And wouldn't that be an interesting scene, if Judas, the discipleship treasurer, had access to even the gift of gold...and yet for some reason still settled for silver. But no, we don't see the gifts anywhere near the treasury.

Maybe they left them in the stable, left them in the barn. Maybe they used them to pay the innkeeper, although it's hard to imagine that such modest, last-minute, I-guess-if-you-have-to accommodations with the animals would cost so much as to take even the smallest measure of such precious gifts. So that doesn't make much sense, either. 

We never hear about them being brought to the Temple. Don't hear of them being laid on the altar. Don't catch wind of them being dropped in the collection box. We aren't told that they are given away or even that they are shared or even if they are kept.

We aren't told anything about them, except, of course, that at the birth of Jesus, the wise men came bearing them and laid them at His feet. (Or gave them to His parents or whatever.) 

But what if we did see these gifts again? What if we saw them in the same way that we see so many things that God shows us...quietly? 

What if these gifts that the wise men brought to reveal who this baby truly was were later used by the Son of God Himself to make His own statement? 

Because we do see these gifts again. Not all together and not at center stage, but they're there all the same. And everything we know about God says that's probably not an accident, likely no coincidence. 

So where are the gifts of the Magi? We'll see. 

Stay tuned. 

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