Monday, January 10, 2011

Thoughts on the Magi, Pt II

One could say that these pilgrims "from the East" are attractive as images to Christians over the centuries because they stood before the manger of Christ for all of us. Over the centuries, I have my days where I think the worst possible thing that ever hit the Christian church was the idea of ordination of clergy. Clergy have had, over the centuries, this inclination to come in and do everything. Which is a blessing and curse, don't get me wrong. Its good to have leaders, and I do believe God does ordain leaders, but I think sometimes clergy forget that being a lay person in the church is a calling by God too. It's a different type of calling, but it is an important calling nonetheless.

What I like about the image of the Wise Men, or Magi, or Magicians, or what ever you want to call them is that their gifts represent symbolically all that we, as followers of the Saviour, and what we bring to Christ and his Church.

The gold signifies a type of material gift; the frankincense represent a type of immaterial gift; and the myrrh represents those gifts that are both spiritual and material. There are in the Church community those people who bring the Lord gold and those who bring frankincense; and those that bring myrrh. Perhaps there are some that can bring all three gifts. Who are these individuals?

THEY ARE NOT JUST CLERGY!

Gold is brought by those who, for the glory of God and the benefit of their neighbor, offer anything of their labors and possessions, time, talent, and treasure you might say. For example, you bring gold to the Lord if you build, renew, or adorn God's temple in worship or material goods (I'm looking at you, Altar Guild!). Your gift pleases God, for even though He sits on the throne of glory, our Lord Jesus continues to appear in the manger as well.

Our God is also a God of the Poor because he is a God who became poor. Jesus suffered want in much of his life, beginning in the manger, Jesus needed material things like food and clothing. Therefore, if you do anything for the benefit of the church, your offering delights the Lord -as much as did the gift of the magi who brought Him gold. You might not have gold to give, but to a starving family, a can of food from the food pantry tastes better than a bar of gold.

Archbishop Innocent of Kherson said that there are those in the church who can bring Frankencense. This costly frankincense is offered to the Lord by each one who, who serves his or her neighbor by proclaiming the ways of the Lord, who those who guide those who have lost their way, and those who comfort those in despair.

Frankincense is brought to the Lord by parents and guardians who permeates their homes or offices with love and prayer for those that have been entrusted to their keeping and rearing and mentorship. Frankincense is brought to the Lord by that artists or musicians who turn their creative powers into m e a n s of disseminating the glory of God in various artistic forms from singing to playing music to artwork. And just as there is no -one who does not possess abilities or talents of some kind, neither is there anyone who is unable to bring the Lord frankincense by using their abilities to the glory of God and the true profit of his neighbors.

The third gift to the Lord from the magi · was myrrh. This was the last gift and therefore more exalted than gold or even frankincense.

What kind of gift is this, and why is it so important? Like frankincense, myrrh exudes a fragrance when burned, but its distinguishing quality lies in its great bitterness; Unlike Frankencense, its stinks when you burn it, which is why it was primarily used for burial. It would literally cover up the stench of death. For this reason it represents our trials and sorrows, our tears and sufferings.

I fear that it is all to clear who brings to the Lord the gift of myrrh. Those people bring it who patiently bear trials in life and suffer without giving in to bleak despair or bitterness; but those who, in enduring their trials, are moved to but to a hope in the living God-- Such endurance, in the spirit of faith and love, of the tribulations and sorrows of life are also a gift to the Lord, a gift more precious than gold and of a sweeter savor even than frankincense.

We all have gifts to give both Church and one another, but we give them primarily to God.

This is what the story and the image of the Magi teach us, They give us the great Epiphany that we all have something to do, we all have something to contribute, and we are all to love and are loved.

This is what it means to be Children of God.
AMEN.

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