As a child, I always dreaded the New Year. To me, it seemed more of an end rather than a beginning. As an adult I realize that the New Year is like sitting at the top of a roller coaster, ready for a big ride; perhaps one that we will ride in the dark, not knowing what we're going to encounter. It could be a good ride, or a bad one. Or it could be a combination of both good and bad... and really, that's what life is all about, isn't it? Old habits die hard, and I find myself still thinking about New Year's in this manner. However, looking at this picture, of "The Star".. so bright, so filled with hope and promise, that I remember... that even if we experience difficulties and sorrows, that we're not in the dark, we're not alone. The Birth of the Christ Child, and His subsequent death and resurrection are the greatest gift of all... they give us hope, light and the promise of our own salvation.
With Epiphany, I think of the three wisemen, traveling from the east to see the Christ Child. The brought with them gifts- Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. It's obvious that Gold is precious and valuable, but what are Frankincense and Myrrh? I found this great explanation from this website:
GOLD: This carries obvious significance. It's precious and worthy across all cultures and times. It's a gift fit for royalty. It says to the Christ child, You will be a King
FRANKINCENSE: The name for this resin likely comes from incense of Franks since it was reintroduced to Europe by Frankish Crusaders. Although it is better known as frankincense" to westerners the resin is also known as olibanum, which is derived from the Arabic al-lub ("the milk") a reference to the milky sap tapped from the Boswellia tree. Frankincense has been touted for its medicinal and soothing properties. Herbalists say it is calming, restorative, gently clarifying, and meditative. Frankincense oil is thought to have stimulating, toning, and warming properties. The ancient world used it for treating depression. We recognize the word incense in its name. Ancient people burned frankincense, believing it to carry their prayers to heaven. Its use as incense illustrates His role as our Priest.
MYRRH: This is perhaps the most mysterious of the Gifts. It is a resin produced by a small, tough, scraggly tree that grows in semi-desert regions of North Africa and the Red Sea. Myrrh is an Arabic word for bitter, and it is considered a wound healer because of its strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Calling it mo yao, the Chinese used it for centuries to treat wounds, bruises and bleeding and to relieve painful swelling. The Egyptians made it famous in Biblical times, having acquired myrrh about the fifteenth century B.C. from Africa where cammiphora trees were abundant. It was used in incense, perfumes and holy ointments and also medicinally as recorded in the Ebers Papyrus. But its most notable use to them was that of an embalming material, used in Egyptian mummies. As an embalming ointment it signified that He was born to Die for the world. In fact, Myrrh was one of the burial spices of Jesus (John 19:39).
During Advent, I was at a gathering where someone proposed the question, "what gifts do you bring to the Baby Jesus"? I've been pondering this question for weeks now. What gifts could I bring to the Christ child? I could bring my love, my desire to be a good and obedient child of God. I could be more prayerful... I've been wanting to pray the rosary everyday. I could do this for Jesus, and in doing so, for myself and my loved ones. I could be a better steward, a better wife, a better daughter, a better sister and a better person... I could try harder in things that where I usually am slacking!
This is quite a list! And this list seems to resemble a list of New Year's resolutions as well! Maybe that was the intent of New Year's resolotions! So I am resolving to offer these gifts to the Christ Child and to be a better Child of God! Will I succeed? Who knows? I do know that I am resolved to try my best, and that's all any of us can do. And I am reminded of the words of my father so many years ago "All I as is that you try your best"!