A Christmastide Devotional for December 29, 2021, originally offered on Christmas Day 2010 by Rev. Dr. Dan De Leon
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. –Matthew 2:1-12
Clement of Alexandria wrote, “The Logos (Word) of God has become human so that you might learn from a human being how a human being may become divine.” The three wise men with their gold, frankincense and myrrh tug on my heartstrings because of their humble obedience. That was their greatest gift really. They heed a simple warning from a dream: avoid Herod. So, they return home by another road. The Logos that we celebrate breaking in on the world at Christmas grew up, and he grew in Divine and human favor. And this Incarnate Word taught us to repent, to change directions, so that we would grow to understand God’s salvation. After seeing the Christ child, those three guys couldn’t help but to return home by a different route, a new direction. I can’t help thinking that new direction placed them on the path of righteousness; it set them on a journey toward becoming, themselves, Divine. And doesn’t the Logos we call Christ tell us that God’s Spirit lives within each one of us? As we celebrate Jesus’ birth, maybe the greatest gift we can give him is for our life to change directions.