Sunday bulletin

Matthew 2:1-2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi, from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him."

Henry Hopkins' carol "We Three Kings of Orient Are" chronicling the visit of the Wise Men, has perpetuated some of the legends that grew up around the Magi. As we pastors often explain, the Bible doesn't tell us how many Magi there were and we don't know their names, nationality, ethnicity, etc. And they almost certainly weren't kings.

But while we spend considerable time setting the record straight with respect to these matters, the fact is, in his 1857 carol Hopkins doesn't draw our attention chiefly to the Wise Men, but to the King they came to worship. And he uses the gifts the Magi brought to place before even the most casual of carolers exactly who this Child of Bethlehem is and what He will accomplish through His life and death and resurrection.

Gold befits a King "Born on Bethlehem's plain ... ceasing never over us all to reign." Already in Old Testament times smoldering frankincense sent fragrant smoke heavenward. To bring this expensive aromatic to Jesus recognized the Christ-Child as "God most high" and worthy of "Pray'r and praising" and worship by all.

And when the poet deals with the gift of myrrh He focuses our worship on the purpose for which our King was born, for myrrh was commonly used with aloes in anointing the dead for burial (John 19:39). This Child is come for "Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying" and to be "Sealed in the stone-cold tomb."

But just as Jesus' birth is only the beginning, so also His death.

"Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia ..."

That still leaves the the first question mark in the title of this devotion-- the one after the "WE". The most important one. Do we join the Magi in worshiping and honoring the Savior-- from the heart in word and action?

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