Category Archives: Insights

Not Just for Christmas

23. The wise men gave myrrh, to show that Jesus would die.
The incarnation of Jesus is not just for Christmas. The wise men sensed there was something powerful in the birth of this child. Myrrh, a bye-product of incense resin, had been used in ancient burial rites for eons. So, these visitors might as well have given a coffin! A portent, a guess, a mistake, why would they make such an offering. I suppose any incarnation, fully valid, would have worked out in death or full humanity for Jesus would have been no more than a cheap trick or God playing at the human state. Did the wise men imagine the cross or were they just acknowledging the human frailty that must end?
Pray for those whose lives are ending at this time, those who you have loved and lost. Remember too through the gift of myrrh Jesus too followed that path – horribly in the cross.

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Wishes

20. The wise men worshipped the child Jesus, and gave him three gifts.

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Magical three wishes are the staple of fairy stories. Placing yourself in the position of the wise men, worshipping, what three gifts would you offer the child Jesus? From the very heart of your being what would you give. Of all of the carols, “In the Bleak Mid Winter” holds a magical image in the last verse where Christina Rossetti manages to direct our thoughts in this matter of gifting Jesus.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;

Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart

Celebrity

19. The wise men left Herod, and followed the star all the way to Jesus.

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Herod was a celebrity of his day. Even though a puppet of Rome, he was famed and favoured, heralded as a leader and head of state; presumably rich and powerful. The Christmas story is full of the opposites that humanity tries to follow and comes up short. The wise men head for Herod seeking the ‘child born to be King’ and are disappointed with what they find. In their wisdom they follow the star and in their wisdom they find a celebrity fraud; a shell of what they seek.

Later and in a similar fashion, John the Baptist asked those seeking the Christ, ‘Who/what are you looking for?’ When we seek we will find -“All the way to Jesus.”

Following

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18. The wise men followed the star to find Jesus. But on the way, they met evil King Herod who heard about Jesus and wanted to kill him.

A great deal of my understanding of God comes from hymns. When I read this part of the story the tune for ‘the Summons’ rose as an ear worm. I checked the words and thought they related both to the wise men and to us. Just read slowly and wonder!
Will you come and follow me

if I but call your name?

Will you go where you don’t know

and never be the same?

Will you let my love be shown,

will you let my name be known,

will you let my life be grown

in you and you in me?
Will you leave yourself behind

if I but call your name?

Will you care for cruel and kind

and never be the same?

Will you risk the hostile stare

should your life attract or scare?

Will you let me answer prayer

in you and you in me?

 

Will you let the blinded see

if I but call your name?

Will you set the prisoners free

and never be the same?

Will you kiss the leper clean

and do such as this unseen,

and admit to what I mean

in you and you in me?

 

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide

if I but call your name?

Will you quell the fear inside

and never be the same?

Will you use the faith you’ve found

to reshape the world around

through my sight and touch and sound

in you and you in me?

 

Lord, your summons echoes true

when you but call my name.

Let me turn and follow you

and never be the same.

In your company I’ll go

where your love and footsteps show.

Thus I’ll move and live and grow

in you and you in me.

Seeing

17. Sometime later, there were some wise men who saw a new star in the sky.




Sometimes in faith we need to have simple wisdom like the wise men of the Jesus story. We read that they saw, pure and simple, they saw! Such wisdom that they had though was dependent on them looking. Jesus you will remember accused the scribes and Pharisees of looking and not seeing; of knowing the law but not the wit to see God’; of the demand of ‘mercy and not sacrifice’. So we return to the ‘ask, seek and knock’ that Jesus promoted. So today look carefully at the world then in your prayers ‘ask, seek and knock.’

A Waiting Disciple?

16. The shepherds found the baby and then were so happy and excited that they told lots of other people the news.


I always dream of one of the shepherds turning out to be one of Jesus favoured disciples some years later. From their calling to the stable in Bethlehem, their visitation and their spreading of the news; they waited and watched.

Here is the nub of our faith; we hear, we act and we tell. When we are comfortable with this path we will be drawn into repetition. We cannot stop hearing, but then neither can we cease acting as Jesus called and neither can we stop telling of the worth and worship we find in Jesus presence.

Comfortable 

13. Jesus was born. He was wrapped up, and placed in the animal’s hay to sleep.


Modernity had ruined contentment. There seems nothing that is more abhorrent today than being comfortable. Change has become the ideological drive of the day, everything must renew or be cast aside because it seems to be comfortable whilst being contented is all but sinful and decay.

Where though on earth can the wholeness and holiness of a child settled and sleeping lead? 

“Don’t disturb the baby” a couple receiving guests will say,”they took ages to settle!” From comfort and calmness a child grows naturally. I believe, I hope the part of Jesus development was in love and stability generated from Mary and Joseph.