Monday, January 05, 2009

Lessons of the Epiphany

The turning over of the New Year usually is a time of great reflection for me. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. I certainly have a lot I want to do differently as well. This Sunday at church I was challenged to take a deeper step in my faith.

The step revolved around: fragrance.

The story of the Magi started me down this road of contemplating fragrance. These men (presumably 3, although not historically or biblically confirmed) brought extravagant gifts to Jesus. The equivalent of our day may be: a brand new car, or money from our retirement accounts, or a diamond ring. However, these modern day examples may not be entirely accurate because the gifts brought by the Magi were not only extravagant, but symbolic.

Gold likely symbolized royalty, as kings would usually have the riches of the land. Gold was very valuable (as it has always been), therefore the Magi were likely giving Jesus the best they had with this gift. Frankincense was like incense, or a scent, used for aroma and/or medication in some instances. In Jesus' day, frankincense was used for state meetings and in religious ceremonies. The Emperor Nero (A.D. 37-68), at the funeral of his second wife Poppaea, burnt in excess of the total annual production of Arabia. It is largely considered the highest quality scent in the world today, and Omani frankincense is sold for $120 per kilogram in Arabia. Of course this symbolizes the "aroma of Christ" and a "sweet smelling sacrifice" of His life. Myrrh was primarily used to embalm the dead in those times. It was used in commerce, and was an ingredient of holy ointment. Myrrh was offered to Jesus as He hung on the Cross as a stupefying potion. Myrrh then is used as a symbol of the suffering and death of Christ for our sins.

I love how profound Scripture is...although at times it is quite "stupefying" for me to contemplate as well! Thinking about these gifts from the Magi, I really focused in on the frankincense. I was challenged as to how much of a fragrance I wear and leave behind that would point people to Christ. I know of many areas in my day to day life that lack this aroma. I desire to interact with people in such a way that they couldn't help but smell the fragrance of Christ, and that the aroma would stick with them.

So ushering in the New Year, 2009, I look not to lose weight, or to save money, or to travel the world, but to be the fragrance of Christ to the world around me.