They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. [Matthew 2:11 CEB]
The worship team was going over this Sunday’s service during our planning session this week. We came to the hymns that we would be singing and I was initially startled that one was “We Three Kings.” My knee jerk reaction was, “Wait, Christmas is over. Why are we singing a Christmas carol?” Christmas decorations are being taken down and put back in the attic and we are trying to get our lives back to normal. Christmas 2022 is done. But then I came to my senses.
We often lament the fact that Christmas has become too commercialized. The baby in the manger is left out of Christmas and has been replaced by Santa. Yet, an even dire situation is when the Christmas season is over and we leave the baby in the manger. Jesus is just a cute little angelic babe we sing about—"no crying he makes." This is a sad situation if we go merrily along with our lives after the holiday season and leave Jesus in the manger.
Today, January 6, is Epiphany, the day that principally commemorates, but not solely, the visit of the Magi (the three kings or wise men) to the Christ Child. Contrary to our nativity scenes today, many Biblical scholars believe that this visit came some time after Jesus was born, maybe even up to three years after. Notice in the Scripture above from Matthew it says they “saw the child” not “the baby.”
The gift at Christmas is not just a onetime gift that we commemorate each December 25. The real gift of Christmas is Christ present in our lives. God, through His grace and love for you and me, abides in us. He showed His abundant love for us by the special gift of Christmas. He sent His own Son, in the flesh, to earth so that He may be known to us, to be incarnate, to redeem us, to bring the extraordinary to the ordinary—God, here, now, in the thick of it, with us. What a wonderful gift for us to enjoy not just at His birth, but throughout eternity.