During the season of Epiphany, of revelation, we ponder the story of the Magi who came from the East to visit the Christ child. There are so many levels in which this account recorded in the Gospel of Matthew captures our attention and reveals much practical truth for us:
- “Wise men still seek Him.”
- Christ came for all people, in all cultures and communities.
- God guides us to Jesus.
- Evil cannot overcome God’s plans, etc.
These are some of the sermons I have preached over the years from this text, found in Matthew’s second chapter. Also, we never tire of considering the gifts of the Wise Men: gold, frankincense and myrrh. What Christmas pageant is complete without three children dressed in ornate bathrobes and tin foil crowns bearing three boxes of precious gifts? Surely once again, during this season of Epiphany, we are called to honor Christ with our gifts.
I witnessed virtual gifts of the Magi during my recent trip to India with youth on the Northeastern Jurisdiction (NEJ) Mission of Peace and with fellow bishops participating in a continuing education event led by Bishop Suda Devadhar of the New England Conference. We began our journey just after Christmas, and it continued into the New Year and the season of Epiphany.
India was well-decorated for the Christmas season, even though only about 2.5 percent of the population is professed Christian. Everywhere our group of 35 participants traveled we saw crèches with figurines of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds and the Wise Men bearing symbolic precious gifts. I also saw real gifts of real value being offered to Christ by faithful—and yes, wise—men and women throughout India.