Friday, January 06, 2012

Happy "Three Kings Day!"

Gifts of men from distant lands
Prophesy the story:
Gold- a King is born today,
Incense- our God is with us,
 Myrrh- His death will make a way,
And by His blood He'll win us. 
- "Joy Has Dawned" by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend, 2004

It's the last day of Christmas know the old song, "The 12 Days of Christmas"?  It refers to the old practice of actually celebrating 12 days of "Christmastide;" starting December 25th (the end of the "Advent" season in the Church year), and stretching 12 full days until Epiphany, or "Three Kings Day."  Yes, yes, shhhh all you Theologically-Correct peeps, we KNOW that the Magi probably didn't come exactly 12 days after Jesus' birth to the stable in Bethlehem (it was probably more like 2 years later... in a house), and they weren't exactly"kings," and we don't know that there were three of them... but the name has a nice ring, ok?  Just play along.

Epiphany is defined as "from the Greek epiphaneia:  manifestation, striking appearance."  We use the word to mean a sudden revelation, a flash of inspiration or understanding.  In the sense of the holiday, the word is used literally: the sudden revealing of God as a man, not only the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews but also the Savior of the World... even of Gentiles, like... me.  Today was set aside by the church fathers to celebrate the day that Old Testament prophesies opening up the salvation offered in Israel would be extended to the world, exemplefied by foreign wise men bowing low and giving this child their treasures.  
Isaiah 49:6 records God the Father speaking about His coming servant:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 60:3 adds: "And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising"
All day Simeon's words spoken over the 8-day-old Jesus have rung in my ears:
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:24-32
Eowyn & I made ginger-molasses cookies, invited some friends over for the Veggie Tales "The Star of Christmas" and played with the Nativity Set one last time.  I tried to listen to hymns about the Wise Men, Simeon (hear my favorite song on that topic, "Your King Has Come," here.)
or the Incarnation.  I'm so thankful that God decided to open up salvation to us Gentiles!  Today has been a good day to "remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ."

And that all started with the Incarnation, as lowly (shepherds) and high (Magi) alike were brought near to worship the King of kings.

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