I can’t believe it is already December 5 and Christian will be home from college in less than two weeks. Christmas! This reminds me of when I was a child.
A distant aunt insisted on knitting me a new hat every Christmas. I tried to be grateful but they were truly atrocious creations. The worst one was purple and yellow with great wool loops all over it. (I was convinced that if a bird flew low enough over my head, I was going to take off with it!) Making these gifts harder to get excited about was the fact that this aunt always brought my brother whatever the latest toy was. He was always thrilled. When I asked my mum about this discrepancy, she said “Her gifts say a lot, Sheila. She spends a long time knitting those hats. They are special!” She was right and I’ll leave it at that.
The gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus spoke volumes too. Myrrh was used as an embalming spice in those days. It pointed to the death Jesus would die on our behalf, the payment for our sins. The gold was so valuable that many commentators believed Joseph used it to cover the cost of travel to Egypt, following the angel’s command and keeping Jesus safe after Herod ordered the slaughter of all baby boys.
But I find the frankincense most amazing. It’s mentioned in the book of Exodus when God reveals His design for the tabernacle – the place that He would be present with His people. Exodus 30:22-38 has specific instructions about an incense that was to be offered to the Lord: “Never use this formula to make this incense for yourselves. It is reserved for the Lord, and you must treat it as holy. Anyone who makes incense like this for personal use will be cut off from the community” (vv 37-28).
This incense was to be burned in the front of the Ark of the Covenant at the place where God would meet the high priest. Clearly this incense signified the presence of God with His people. And what was this special incense? God instructed them to gather fragrant spices and “mix these fragrant spices with pure frankincense” (v 34).
As the Magi placed their gifts before the Christ Child, the message was loud and clear and it’s the greatest news the world has ever heard: God has come to us!
Remember this: In this very moment, God offers you the gift of His presence.