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Archive for December, 2014

I love carols… it’s like a candlelit Christmas Eve service is wrapped into the music… steeped in hope, bursting with joy, the words paint a picture… each hymn a different piece of the incredible Christmas story…

…We three kings of Orient are… bearing gifts we traverse afar…

…field and fountain, moor and mountain… following yonder star…

“…Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked [King Herod], ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1b-2)

…O Star of wonder, star of night… Star with royal beauty bright…

…Westward leading, still proceeding… Guide us to thy perfect light…

“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.” (Matthew 9-11a) The biblical account doesn’t specify how many magi there were, or much about who they were, but I love what their gifts foreshadow about Jesus

…Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain… Gold I bring to crown him again…

…King forever, ceasing never… over us all to reign…

They brought GOLD… gold was used to pay tribute to a king, to decorate the homes of kings, and to adorn King Solomon’s temple. The gospel of Matthew, where the story of the magi is found, begins by tracing the genealogy of Jesus from the royal line of King David. The magi came looking for a king, and when they found him they “bowed down and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11). Oh, that we would do the same!

 …Frankinsense to offer have I, incense owns a deity neigh…

…prayer and praising, all men raising… worship Him, God most high…

They brought FRANKINCENSE… priests used this incense in ceremonial offerings (Exodus 30:34). Precious in the ancient world, frankincense was harvested by slicing the bark of certain trees and allowing the resin to bleed out and harden in the sun. According to Herodotus, these trees were often home to snakes, so obtaining the sap could be dangerous. He wrote that people would light a fire by the tree in order to drive away the snakes with smoke. Jesus, our great high priest (Hebrews 4:14-15), defeated Satan on the cross. Indeed, the curse of the serpent in the Garden of Eden was fulfilled in Jesus, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

…Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume… breathes of life, of gathering gloom…

…sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying… sealed in the stone-cold tomb…

They brought MYRRH… this was used for embalming and perfumes since its strong fragrance masks odor. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea used a mixture of myrrh and aloes to prepare Jesus’ body for burial in the tomb (John 19:39-40). Myrrh was also believed to have medicinal properties, possibly providing pain relief. When Jesus was nailed on the cross, he was offered wine mixed with myrrh but he refused it (Mark 15:23). Jesus was to be the ultimate sacrifice for us all.

…Glorious now, behold him arise… King, and God, and sacrifice…

…alleluia, alleluia… earth to heav’n replies…

 

A couple of years ago, the church I was a part of went through a “Carols” series… it was a way of preparing for Christmas, of using a few traditional carols as the backdrop to bring the biblical story to life. This blog post is almost entirely from of the sermon “Bearing Gifts We Traverse Afar” from Dec 12, 2010 at Willamette Christian Church in West Linn, OR (by John Furman, I believe). Sorry, it doesn’t look like the podcast is online anymore – just in my journal. : )

Merry Christmas friends!!

 

 

 

Lyrics to “We Three Kings” from http://www.lyricsforchristmas.com/christmas-carols/we-three-kings/

 

 

 

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