If you’ve ever heard someone say they’ve had an epiphany, what they mean is that they have discovered something unexpected. It happens suddenly, not over a period of time, and the revelation must of be something of great worth. The January 6th Epiphany on the Christian calendar commemorates the day the wise men discovered Jesus. Epiphany is the celebration of finding something worth finding.
It’s Christmastime Charlie Brown originally aired in 1965. Charlie Brown and Rudolf are lifetime favorites, Home Alone and The Santa Clause are a little bit newer (but perhaps still old movies to some of you). And I watch them all again every year.
Here’s a couple of oldie but goodies here on the Master’s Table that come back around every Christmas. Prayerfully consider the scriptures and see what you think.
Rethinking the Angelic Choir:
What is the first thing the angel says to the shepherds? Most of the time when angels appear in the Bible (unless in disguise) the first words out of their mouths are “Do not be afraid.” There must be a reason for this. Either the stature, or brilliance, or something we are not told about angels evokes fear in regular people. Note the words “heavenly host.” Anytime the Old Testament says anything about a host it is in reference to an army. I want you to carefully consider all of this together. An angel appears to a group of shepherds whose natural tendency is to run in fear. The sky was then filled with the heavenly host, singing and praising God. This was not a choir, made up of beautiful women in choir robes; it was a vast military force, an army of angels, possibly with swords drawn ready to do battle. Is all of this baseless conjecture? I do not think so. READ MORE
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
And what about myrrh? See myrrh is different. It’s a resin similar to frankincense, but offers a bitter aroma rather than a sweet one. In Biblical times its most common use was as an embalming agent. Had the women found Jesus on Sunday morning after the crucifixion, they would have anointed him with myrrh among other herbs. Gold and frankincense are obviously valuable gifts, but why offer myrrh? READ MORE
I’ve written before on just who the Magi were and where they might have been from. The truth is, we don’t know how many wise men visited Jesus nor where they came from. The traditional names Casper, Melchior and Balthazar are from the Western Church tradition; Eastern Orthodoxy and Ethiopian Christianity offer different lists of names. Were they from Persia? China? Like I said, we don’t know. They were not at the manger either, but that’s another story. Continue reading
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
Take a good look at this nativity scene. Study it for a moment. It should look similar to every other nativity you’ve ever seen before. Jesus is lying in a manger filled with hay; the major characters are in or around a stable of some sort; the star would be shining above; the shepherds came from the field, where they had been watching their flocks; and the 3 wise men came bringing gifts. It’s a nice picture, and we think “That seems about right.” But it’s not. One of the things on my list, according to scripture at least, doesn’t belong. Continue reading