Tim’s Daily Bread Devotional 1.6.22

By January 6, 2022Daily Bread

Good morning!

I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12

 1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” 7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today

January 6th is Epiphany.  At Epiphany we focus on the visit of the wise men—or magi as they are called in scripture—from the east.  The magi were Zoroastrian priests, scholars and astrologers—most likely from Persia.  They followed a star to find the Christ child and offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

An interpretation of the meaning of these gifts that dates back to as early as the third century is that gold symbolized kingship, frankincense (an incense) symbolized deity, and myrrh (an oil used in embalming) symbolized death.  We can see this interpretation in the Epiphany carol “We Three Kings” in which the magi describe their gifts. The last verse is a kind of summary: “Glorious now behold Him arise/King and God and sacrifice.

What gifts can we bring to the Christ child?

One evening during Advent a pastor was called by his four young children to come and be the audience for their living room Christmas play. Typically, the father entered the play’s “set” to find Jesus played by a flashlight wrapped in a blanket, Joseph defined by his bathrobe and mop-handle staff, Mary looking solemn with a sheet-draped head, the angel of the Lord with pillow-case wings, and one wise king with another pillowcase full of gifts. This king was being played by the youngest child, who felt duty bound to explain herself and her mission. “I’m all three wise men. I bring precious gifts: gold, circumstance and mud!”

Holding in his laughter, the pastor thought about just how wise those three gifts truly would be, if we would lay them before the Christ child.

Our gold: We spend so much of our time and energy trying to save money, make money, manage money that it easily can become the focus of our lives. Offering our gold then becomes a symbol of our commitment to a different set of values.

Our circumstance: We all have particular circumstances:  sometimes freeing, sometimes limiting, sometimes depressing, sometimes uplifting, sometimes challenging, sometimes routine. What would it mean to offer our lives—whatever the circumstances—trusting in Christ.

Our mud: What is it that has us stuck?  What is it that has muddied the waters, so that we cannot see clearly?  What about the muddy messes we’ve created?  What would it mean to bring those to Christ so that we can be unstuck, have clarity in our lives, and a new, clean, fresh beginning?

Maybe that youngest child had it right:  the best thing we can offer is our gold, circumstance, and mud—in other words, our whole lives.

Hymn Suggestion

“We Three Kings”

We three kings of Orient are;
bearing gifts we traverse afar,
field and fountain, moor and mountain,
following yonder star.

Refrain:
O star of wonder, star of light,
star with royal beauty bright,
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain,
gold I bring to crown him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
over us all to reign.

Refrain

Frankincense to offer have I;
incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising, voices raising,
worshiping God on high.

Refrain

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

Refrain

Glorious now behold him arise;
King and God and sacrifice:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
sounds through the earth and skies.

Refrain

Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these reflections on a portion of scripture.  I hope you will carry these with you throughout your day and night.

Grace and Peace,


Dr. Tim Bruster
Senior Pastor

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