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Journey to the Manger: Advent, December 24, 2013

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Advent means coming or arrival. The celebration of Advent by Christians is the anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child as well as his anticipated return as Christ the King.

Come here daily in December for your Journey to the Manger. Readings here will look at the symbols of advent and provide suggested readings and meditations.

On Day 24 consider the visit and the gifts of the wise men.

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

~ Matthew 2:9-12

Traditional nativity scenes place the wise men at the manger. In reality, their arrival was some time after the birth of Jesus and most likely in Nazareth, not Bethlehem. Jesus was probably a toddler by the time they got there. The gifts they offered were pricey, and quite possibly financed the journey of the Holy Family into Egypt to escape the wrath and jealousy of Herod.

May all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him.

~ Psalm 72:11

Matthew records that the wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

  • The gold signifies that Jesus is the King as this precious metal was reserved only for royalty. The wise men sought the King of the Jews and recognized the star as a sign of the significance of his birthy.
  • Frankincense was a rare item that was used in the Hebrew Temple in worship of God. This signifies the divinity of Jesus.
  • Myrrh was very valuable and was most commonly used as a perfume. It was most often used for burials when the body was wrapped in cloths to help cover the smell of death. This signifies that Jesus was born to die.

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,
Worshipping 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

~ John H. Hopkins, Jr.

Suggestion: Make a symbol of the gifts for your Advent tree.

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