When I was growing up in Crestview, we decorated the house inside and out.
It was not quite like the display in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation," but lights went up outside the house and we got a real tree and decorated it. Mom painted a picture in the living room’s big picture window. We were preparing for the celebrating of the birth of Christ.
Not unlike the Magi.
Present-day astronomers, in Christ’s time, were priestly men called stargazers. The term "Magi" possibly referred to a certain Persian priestly order.
Let me paint you a picture of Matthew 2: 1-12: Several men gaze into the heavens, day in and day out, for particular signs.
Then, it happened.
A very unusual star appeared from nowhere. To these men, it was a sign that someone very special would be born or had been born. They excitedly checked the star's origin, its continuing appearance, and its unusual brilliance. They tracked the star to Christ in the manger and paid tribute.
Today, we prepare for vacations in a similar way.
These men needed to plan a trip. They decided how many would go, provisions needed, gifts to take as tribute, best routes, and their destination.
Preparation sometimes took two years. AAA couldn’t tell them what interstates and highways to take. They received no recommendations for restaurants or hotels. Servants may have handled these duties.
Today, we get in the car and go. We stop at a motel, spend the night and continue the journey the next day.
However, ancient people planned for hardships, rested several days before continuing onward, and sometimes bought more animals during the journey because of sickness or injury.
Then the big day came when they started the journey.
There is no known diary for the Magi, but I imagine they experienced sandstorms, desert heat, robbers and thieves. They probably couldn’t find water, encountered path hazards and lost servants.
At some point, the star disappeared, but they continued their journey. Then they entered Israel’s borders and continued on to Jerusalem to see the king.
Herod the Great was ruler during Jesus' birth. The Magi expected to find the new "King of the Jews" in the palace’s fine splendor, but he was not there. Herod, half-Jewish and half-Edomite, asked the priests and scribes about the Messiah’s birth. Armed with new information about Jesus' birth, the Magi continued on to Bethlehem.
Here, they found the Christ child — who was no longer an infant — and they worshipped him.
The men bowed, acknowledged Christ as King, and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Gold — the finest of all medals; the only metal fit for a king — indicated the child’s divinity.
Frankincense is the gift for a priest. People used this sweet perfume when they made sacrifices during temple worship. Priests open the way for people to find God. Jesus made it possible for us to enter the very presence of God.
Myrrh — a gift for the dying — was used in spices in the burial cloth that Jesus was wrapped in. Jesus came into this world to die for our sins.
This year, as you prepare for Christmas Day, seek the King of Kings who has opened the way for us to enter God’s presence. He died on the cross at Calvary for our sins.
Merry Christmas to you. May God bless you richly.
The Rev. Albert Corey is pastor at Oak Ridge Assembly of God in Crestview.