Jesus Our King

This is the last reflection in a series of teaching tools used by our author, Martha, at her congregation during Advent. What does it teach you?

King: The baby sleeping in the hay has come to earth in the humblest of surroundings: There is no room for him in any inn, and so he is laid in a manger. What a contrast to the  surroundings of an earthly newborn king, and how much vaster a contrast to the glory and majesty of heaven, which he has chosen to leave! But Jesus – fully human and fully God – is born into contrasts.  The contrast between the mortal and the divine is seen in the ones who make their way to the place where the infant is staying. First the shepherds come.  Shepherds were at the bottom of the social scale in Israel, and they come in wonder, their  eyes full of light and their ears filled with the song of angels.  Then the wise men arrive – kings from the East who follow a star to find a greater king to worship. Surrounded by all the trappings of wealth they can transport in their caravan, they fall to their knees when they see the infant Jesus, and they offer him gifts: frankincense, which marks him as a priest;  myrrh (a resin then used in embalming the dead), which marks him as a sacrifice; and gold, which marks him as a king.  The love and joy of Christmas will come to all who approach the manger in humble wonder, eyes full of light and ears filled with song, and fall on their knees to offer him all that they have and all that they are and acknowledge him as Lord and King of all.  

For more about the Christmas see::

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE (Written in 2014)

A Different Kind of Christmas Service

Beginning the Work of Christmas

What Can I Give Him?

We recently observed Epiphany which celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi.  If you remember the story, these wise men from the East came bringing gifts.

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. ” Matthew 2:11

Reading this as part of my devotions made me remember a poem by Christina Rossetti:

“What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,–
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.”

Then I wondered, how about each of us?  What can we give Him?  Here’s a quote by John Ellerton ( English clergyman and hymnodist) that expresses it well.

“Give yourselves anew to God and to God’s service, and He will give you the desire and the power to open your treasures;  to give to Him, it may be wealth, it may be time, it may be personal service, it may be life itself.  In His store there is a place for all, for the tears of the penitent, the barley loaves of the child, the two mites of the widow, the savings of the Philippians’ ‘deep poverty’, as well as for Mary’s ointment, for the land of Barnabas, for the gold and incense and myrrh of these Eastern sages.  And if the vision of Christ be before his eyes, and the love of Christ be in his heart, the man of wealth will give his large offering, the man of learning his dear-bought knowledge, the man of business his hard-earned leisure, for the glory of God, for the benefit of his fellow-men, for the Church or for the poor;  to feed the hungry, or to teach the ignorant, to help the struggling, or to guide the erring;  and each gift will be welcomed by Him who gave Himself for us all, and who asks in return for ourselves as a living sacrifice.”

This is a season of giving, and we all have something to give.  It’s a good time to think about our spiritual and material gifts and then decide what we can give back to Jesus who gave everything for us.

For more about the magi see these posts:

Follow the Star

Journey of the Magi by T.S.Eliot

Amahl and the Night Visitors

Follow the Star

William Law (1686 – 1761) was a Church of England Priest.  I found this quote in my daily devotional, Joy and Strength by Mary Wilder Tileston.

“When therefore the first spark of a desire after God arises in the soul, cherish it with all they care, give all thy heart into it.  It is nothing less than a touch of the divine loadstone, that is to draw thee out of the vanity of time into the riches of eternity.  Get up, therefore, and follow it as gladly as the wise men of the East followed the star from heaven that appeared to them.  It will lead thee to the birth of Jesus, not in a stable at Bethlehem in Judea, but to the birth of Jesus in the dark centre of thine own soul.

William Law

Journey of the Magi by T.S.Eliot

Here you go, my English major moment for the month.  I love this poem and the sense it gives that after meeting Christ, our old life is unsatisfying.

The Journey Of The Magi by T.S. Eliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

A Christmas Prayer

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