December 12, 2002
One of the best-loved Christmas stories tells how the wise men or magi came to worship the infant Lord. The wise men carefully chose their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for their spiritual significance.
Gold is very precious, a beautiful warm color, soft and easily shaped, never rusting. It represents loving the Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength, as in the great commandment. This was their first gift.
Frankincense was offered to the Lord at the time of prayer. It is a gum from the sap of a special tree, also golden-white in color, burning easily and giving a sweet smell. It symbolizes loving our neighbors as ourselves. Especially it represents wanting to open our minds to the Lord’s Word and understand it truly, so that we may live according to it. That’s the best way to guard against doing harm to our neighbors.
Myrrh is also a fragrant gum from the sap of a tree, reddish in color, used especially in ointment or perfume. Nicodemus brought 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes to anoint Jesus’ body for His burial, so we find myrrh both at the beginning and at the ending of the Lord’s life. Myrrh stands for applying love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor to actual life, bringing these loves into the things we do and say, and into our attitudes. Myrrh was the last of the gifts, because it completes them.
Emanuel Swedenborg was given to write, “Therefore, in order to bear witness to their joy of heart, the wise men offered such things as signified every good from first to last.” Apocalypse Explained 324:10
A wonderful thing is that we too can offer these gifts to the Lord, spiritually. We can love Him with all our hearts by putting our faith in Him and keeping His commandments. We can open our minds to Him in prayer and read His Word. And we can choose one area of our life, where we know we have room for improvement, perhaps in relation to a member of our family, or our employer or employees, and we can practice real repentance. We can exercise a bit more self-control, for the sake of our Lord and for the sake of our neighbors. The Lord will make us wiser and happier as we do.
You are invited to a simple portrayal of the Christmas stories on Sunday evening, December 22nd, at 4:45 or 6:00 p.m. We will sing Christmas hymns, say the Lord’s prayer, and the pastor will read from the Gospels while costumed people present the stories on a small stage. It lasts about 35 minutes. It is suitable for children and adults. It is a wonderful way to remember the coming of the Lord. You are also welcome to our regular Sunday services at 10:00 a.m. We would be glad to have you come.
On the back of this page is a list of the Christmas stories and where to find them in your Bible. You can read them to yourself, or with your spouse, or with your children or grandchildren.
Have a peaceful Christmas.
Rev. Lawson M. Smith
|Where to find the Christmas stories:|
|(☆ = special favorites)|
|The angel Gabriel announces the birth of John the Baptist||Luke 1: 5-25|
|☆||The angel Gabriel announces the birth of the Lord to Mary||Luke 1: 26-38|
|Mary visits Elizabeth and thanks the Lord for His mercy||Luke 1: 39-56|
|John the Baptist is born and named||Luke 1: 57-66|
|John’s father, Zacharias, prophesies||Luke 1: 67-80|
|The angel tells Joseph about the Lord’s birth||Matthew 1: 18-25|
|☆||The Lord’s birth in Bethlehem||Luke 2: 1-7|
|☆||The angels tell the shepherds about His birth||Luke 2: 8-14|
|☆||The shepherds come to see Him||Luke 2: 9-20|
|Jesus is presented in the temple||Luke 2: 21-40|
|Jesus studies the Word with the rabbis at 12 years old||Luke 2: 41-52|
|☆||The wise men come to worship Him||Matthew 2: 1-12|
|Joseph takes Mary and Jesus and flees to Egypt||Matthew 2: 13-15|
|Herod kills the baby boys around Bethlehem||Matthew 2: 16-18|
|Joseph brings Mary and Jesus back to the land of Israel||Matthew 2: 19-23|