Happy New Year to everyone! Let’s hope 2021 will be a healthier year for all of us. Jim and I are quarantined with the virus as I type this, but are doing quite well, at least for now. Dr. Dan Eischen put an interesting post on Facebook this morning and I am going to use it for this column.
He began with saying that we are now in the season of Epiphany, which means, “to bring to light,” or “to appear.” The season lasts until lent begins which this year is on February 17. He also mentioned that they will keep their Christmas decorations up until that time. I had never heard of doing this, but apparently many Christians do honor this custom.
The Epiphany season celebrates all the appearances of Jesus, and his first epiphany was to the shepherds who received the message from an angel that a messiah had been born. An Old Testament prophecy in the book of Micah told them just where to find this holy baby.
Now as far as the wise men go, there is some controversy. We know there were at least three, because it has always been told there were three gifts given to the family in honor of this holy birth. But, it could have been as many as 200.
Also, the star that led them to Jesus would not have stayed in the same place for the many weeks it took for the magi to travel. Dr. Dan surmises that God made a special star to stay in one place for just this occasion. Just like the, “Bethlehem” star we saw earlier, it did not stay in one place, nor did that one. When the magi presented their gifts, they were going to be needed by this family as they made their way to Egypt to escape the decree from Herod. The gold would finance their trip and living expenses. Frankincense was used as incense in the temples to rid the air of the smell of the animal sacrifices, and to also give a pleasing order to symbolize prayer. The myrrh was used as an antibiotic and to embalm bodies. All three could be sold if necessary and each one was symbolic of the life and mission Jesus would carry out in his lifetime.
There is also some controversy about Jesus being born in December. There are theories that it was in the summer because the shepherds were in their fields with the sheep, which happens in the summer when the flock is taken to the hills to graze. But all of this does not matter. The important thing is that the baby was born, and it was the holy birth of a messiah that would sacrifice his life on the cross so we can have eternal life in heaven.
A good resolution for a new year is to find a church to worship in with other believers. Our church is closed right now, but I will put it in my column when we reopen. Until next time, have a blessed week.