Daily reading: 30 December

What does God seek from us?

Something to read

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 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. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Matthew 2, 7-12 New Revised Standard Version

Something to think about

This passage moves us rapidly from Herod’s palace to a brief encounter with the newborn Jesus and Mary (Joseph doesn’t get a mention) and on, via a dream, to the long journey home for the Magi.

Their destination reached, their gifts and worship offered, the Magi vanish as mysteriously as they arrived in Matthew’s pages. But they leave a big impression. For here, in Matthew’s telling of Christmas, are the very first worshippers of Immanuel – of this one who is ‘God with us.’

As the celebrations of Christmas this year pass, and as we await a new year’s dawning, we are reminded of the true response God seeks from us; adoration and offering. The Magi’s gifts seek to honour with precious things this baby who is God’s ultimate gift to all the world; gold for royalty, incense for worship.

But myrrh has an edge to it. For this was the embalming spice. It hints at death. The Magi adore. But while they make their offering to the baby in Mary’s arms, the myrrh prophesies that this baby will offer far more by giving up his life for us all. 

Something to do

Think of the Magi’s gifts. They give in order to welcome and honour God’s gift to them. It is a response of gratitude. What could you give to another person today?

Something to pray

You give us the gift of your very self, dear God.
Help us to be generous in our returned giving.
Help us not to hoard and protect wealth, power and status,
but to be set free to offer what we have to celebrate your coming
and to transform your world.

Today's contributor is the Rev Neil Thorogood, Principal of Westminster College, Cambridge.