It’s the Sunday after Christmas Day, so I preached today. This is not unusual for interns. Plenty of my fellow interns were preaching today, and I hope that it went well for everyone.
Since it’s still Christmas, I figured I’d keep with the theme. The lectionary has the slaughter of the innocents on for today. That’s a worthy topic, and I’ve preached on it before. But since we won’t be doing Epiphany next week, I thought I’d talk about the magi and their gifts today.
So this is what I’m not going to do now. I’m not going to just reprint my sermon here. You can hear that online (eventually) if you like. Still, I want to talk about gifts a bit, and worth.
As it happens, yesterday I got into a FB discussion about the worth of things. That is, the price of things in stores and what they’re really worth. I was weighing in on this because, well, I’ve been talkative my whole life, and it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s coming out of my mouth or my fingers, I have a lot of opinions on things, and I worked in economics for ten years. So I couldn’t resist is really what it was. But it got me thinking.
Worship is about worth, after all. That’s the root of worship – worth. What are we worshipping? Some people really are worshipping gold.
The magi did bring gold to the baby Jesus, but the gold was a symbol of majesty. They also brought him frankincense (anointing, and the sign of Divinity or the adoption by the Divine) and myrrh (a funerary incense that foreshadows the crucifixion and resurrection). So it’s a whole package. Like a gift set. And they’re signs. Not meant to be worshipped in themselves.
Not that gold isn’t nice. It definitely is. But it comes at a price – and I’m not talking about the approximately $1200.00/ounce at which gold is trading. I mean that to get at gold now miners are having to do more and more damage to the environment. Cyanide is used to leach gold from the earth now. Is that worth it to us? Do we need gold that badly that we’re willing to destroy the ground it comes from?
Of course, we do the same for oil, natural gas, coal, and many other things that we take from the earth. We hurt the planet, and we hurt each other, for more stuff, for more money, for more gold.
The magi only appear in Matthew, who is very concerned with royalty. So there’s a lot about royal gifts and royal lineage. There’s nothing about being born in a stable, or about traveling to Bethlehem. In Matthew, the holy family is already there. They live in Bethlehem. It’s in Luke where we see them as poor. Luke shows us a holy baby born among animals and announced to lowly shepherds. No kings. And still, there are angels. The story is worth so much.
So what’s gold to you? What’s a precious gift?
- The Twelve Blogs of Christmas: Third Day – French Horns (thewidowsmiteyblog.wordpress.com)
- The Twelve Blogs of Christmas: First Day – The Whole Family Tree (thewidowsmiteyblog.wordpress.com)
- The Twelve Blogs of Christmas: Day Two – Snuggly Doves (thewidowsmiteyblog.wordpress.com)