From: T.M. Schoewe
We were about to write about the dignity that Christmas brought to the human race with the Lord’s birth and his life as a human being. But we realized this coming Sunday is the Epiphany of our Lord which is told to us by the coming of the Wise Men to the home Mary and Joseph moved to with our little Lord.
Permit me to introduce you to what tradition has called three men. Because there were three gifts it has been assumed there were three wise men. This assumption is not scriptural. But here are the names of the three that tradition gives us. BALTHAZAR from Arabia, MELCHIOR from Persia and CASPAR from India. If you have ever been to Germany you would have found a number of church altars displaying these three wise men and you would have been given a different picture than what we see in this country’s Christian programs or pageants where we typically see three wise men dressed in what we would call bath robes. Those church altars were painted so as to highlight the ethnicities of the three men from Persia, India and Arabia, illustrating how they came from different places or regions, even continents. And it is this diversity that makes Christian sense!
And those three gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, make sense because the ancients knew what these gifts meant. Matthew is the gospel which reports this and he knew it because he read Isaiah. Gold of course is the gift worthy of a “KING.” Frankincense is for the worship of a “GOD.” And Myrrh is embalming oil.
So here we have in the eyes of the givers a King, a God, and a human being Who would die. And in those three images of the wise men and their gifts, we see the Lord Who would die not for just one tribe or nation like the Hebrews, but Who would die for all nations, for all people. Jesus later would tell us that if He be lifted up He would draw all people unto Himself. So the coming of the wise men is the first scene in which we get a glimpse of what Jesus was sent to accomplish on the Cross. And the conclusion therefore is that the Christ child is sent for us Minnesotans; that the King, the Lord, the man Christ Jesus is for all of us. That fact should give you the dignity with which you can go into the 2013 New Year. And with that we can really say Happy New Year, another year of our Lord, another year with “God with us!”
P.S. The sad part of Epiphany is that King Herod was not told by the wise men where the Christ child was in Bethlehem. So in jealousy and fear he ordered all children two years old and under to be killed. This was a greater disaster than Sandy Hook. To this day there are those who fear the King of God and insist on killing Christians in the Middle East, Africa, North Korea, and in China. Even in this country, though we don’t see the murder of Christians, there is an incredible effort by some to do away with the Christmas tree, the Nativity scene, and any mention of Jesus Christ. It is interesting why these people characterize Christ’s historical life, death, and resurrection as a fairy tale of sorts yet act in ways that clearly show their latent fear that this all is true. The old evil foe still means deadly woe but the kingdom of God remains and coming, as we have been taught to pray, “Thy Kingdom Come!”