We three Kings of Orient are bearing gifts, we traverse afar;
Field and fountain, moor and mountain following yonder star.
In this year’s Sunday school Christmas program, the preschool wise-people brought gifts to baby Jesus. One came with a stack of presents that were quickly dropped on the X taped on the floor. Then the mini-Magi hurried back to her place on the risers. The second king brought a burlap bag of feed for the animals in the barn, but plopped it in Joseph’s lap obstructing his face for the rest of the scene. The third wise-person presented a birthday cake – a two-layer shiny plastic confection with one candle that kept tipping over.
It made me wonder: what would be an appropriate gift for such an occasion? Money is always good (gold); expensive perfume is thoughtful (frankincense); oil for embalming (myrrh), well, that’s a little creepy.
In our preschool version of the Christmas story, the three wise-people walked all around the stage, following the girl holding a big star on a long stick. They went around in circles and up and down hills until the star finally stopped over the manger.
It made me wonder: how far am I willing to traverse to worship the Savior? Would I ride a camel across the desert on a hunch that a star was pointing the way to royalty? Would I get a passport and leave my country to worship a baby?
In the big kids performance, King Herod told the Wisemen to let him know when they found the baby because he had a present for the new king. Then the boy playing mean King Herod pulled out a sword, pretended to cut his thumb on the sharp edge, winced and put his thumb in his mouth. It was comical moment.
But it made me wonder: why didn’t anybody in Israel get what was going on? When Herod asked the religious leaders what the ancient scrolls said about a king, they knew exactly where to look. Micah the prophet made it clear: “Out of you, Bethlehem…will come one who will be ruler over Israel.” (Micah 5:2) So they knew the answer, but never went to see for themselves. A bright light was shining over Bethlehem, but they didn’t seem to notice. Angels filled the sky, but they missed it. God became flesh, but they didn’t recognize Him.
The costumes are put away for another year; the gold, frankincense and myrrh are back in the storage boxes. The manger is up on the shelf; the star is in the back of the closet. Oh, but kids sure can preach some good sermons. I hope everyone was paying attention.
Star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright;
Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect Light.