May I speak in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.
Ah Christmas! What is this time for you? A time for families? A time of endless present buying? A time of endless church services? Of endless food, films, sitting?! Or is it a time for meeting God as Man?
These were some of the questions I mulled over while enjoying another family tradition. The family Christmas jigsaw puzzle. Most years we buy a jigsaw and then together we work at it instead of watching the TV. It is a time of laughter, success and frustration. Family life in a nutshell you could say. As I watched my Mother and sister busily work way at their chosen section, I marvelled at the different approaches to completing the puzzle. We all start from the same point by finding the edges and making the rectangle framework. Then the working into the middle begins. I myself tend to come in late to the puzzle completing party. Preferring to wait until all the puzzle bits have been sorted into similar colour shades and patterns. Then I look at the section to be completed, search for the right bit and pop it in first time, mostly. Much to the annoyance of my sister who often says “How did you find that?!” Now my sister also carefully looks at her section but then gets fed up with guessing which bit fits where and so methodically tries each bit in turn to see if it ‘fits’. Her’s is the try it and see way. Compared to mine swoop and fit guarantee! Now my mum, she’s a clump maker. By which I mean she will carefully find bits that all fit together away from the puzzle. So, in this case, a group of flowers or a window. Then she’ll add her bit to the puzzle. My Dad helps occasionally too but not for long as it wasn’t the largest of puzzles and so not much room to work! Yet none of us stick to just one part fo the puzzle either. We all share in moving from place to place as we see parts that fit in.
Eventually though, our methods come about the completion of the puzzle and our time of intimacy of ones with each other. My sister has gone back to her home the other side Leamington, my Mother and Father back to their daily things that retired people do and I’m back to work on Tuesday.
The Magi, the three wise men were, I guess, also good at solving puzzles. For it was the puzzle of the appearance of a new star that led them to search out the New King of the Jews. This new star foretold a new era had begun. A coming of One that would, in time, become the guiding light for all lost in darkness. A guide that would be broken and transformed so that all of us broken by life can be transformed and made whole. A saviour who by His sacrifice would reclaim our rightful inheritance as the children of God. The gifts of the Magi illustrate. Well more than illustrate, They shout of this miraculous story! Gold for a king! Symbol of power, yet Christ’s power as King is not of the world but still is over all. Frankincense – the gift for a priest, a holy man. Christ intercedes on behalf of the people, raising prayers to God like the smoke drifting up from the charcoals. And Myrrh, perhaps the most disturbing gift of the three. Symbolizing both healing and death. Myrrh represents the bitter cup that Christ has to drink in suffering for us. Yet it is His death that ultimately brings healing to us as now we can once again be loved by God our Father.
These gifts are costly. Costly to the Magi and symbolically costly to Christ. To us they represent the cost we must share in too. For, like the magi, our cost needs to be complete surrender to God. The sacrifice of ourselves for then we will truly find ourselves transformed. If we just let go of our little bit of life’s puzzle, if we just let go of trying to figure it all out for ourselves. Then God can come in and show us the complete picture. Where He is waiting with open arms and saying come, rest in me. I love you just as you are.