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.
Born a king on Bethlelhem’s plain,
gold I bring to crown him again,
King forever, ceasing never
over us all to reign.
Frankincense to offer have I:
incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising gladly raising,
worship him God Most High.
Myrrh is mine: its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
-from the hymn We Three Kings by John Henry Hopkins, Jr.
Epiphany comes each year to remind us that God has come to us in the person of Jesus, the Word made flesh. People near (like Joseph and Mary) and people far away (like the magi) are invited to come to him. No one is kept away. And as we do so with perception (i.e. eyes of faith), we find that our most precious gifts (our gold, frankincense, and myrrh) belong at his feet.
– Steve Harper, The Holy Gospel: January 6, 2013 (Year C)
Behold, I give thee gold, that is to say My Divine Love; frankincense, that is all My holiness and devotion; finally myrrh, which is the bitterness of My Passion. I give them to thee to such an extent that thou mayest offer them as gifts to Me, as if they were thine own property.-Mechthild
Psalm 51:15-17 (NRSV)
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Each encounter we have is part of our daily offering to God. Each day, every deed, all the intentional motion of our souls – however helpful or hurtful it may be – is the actual “living sacrifice” we give to God as material with which to weave the human story (see Rom. 12:1). At this daily altar our selves are offered to or withheld from the Spirit’s transforming power. – Robert Corin Morris, Wrestling with Grace
Romans 12:1 (NRSV)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Odors of Edom and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?
Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.
– from the hymn Brightest and Best by Reginald Heber
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