On one of my recent trips to Southern California, I took this photograph while at the beautiful Roger's Gardens in Newport Beach. To call this location a nursery is as much a misnomer as it is to call Disneyland a garden variety amusement park. It's filled with all sorts of eye candy- including the original Disneyland Bandstand- and signage with a nod to the Daveland blog.
I love the "sparkle" of Christmas! It is a time when everything looks bright and new. Whether it is lights shining brightly on buildings old and new, ornaments hanging on the tree, the glow of candlelight at a Christmas worship service, or the gleam in the eyes of children, it brings the warmest of smiles to my face.
Just imagine what was running through the minds of the Magi as they encountered the Christ child centuries ago! Whether He truly glowed as many painters imagined or not, here was the hope of the world, the Light for all men, before their very eyes, given in the most easily received form- that of a child. Their gifts were humble compared to the Gift of Life He gave to all who would believe and turn to Him, but they were substantial and said much about the mission of Jesus Christ.
One brought gold- a gift given between kings. Its symbolism not lost on peoples of the region. Here was one king acknowledging another. A human king with limited realm honoring the King of All Creation.
Another brought frankincense- a gift given between lovers. A perfume of sorts, symbolizing the relationship that this God Who Became Man wanted to have with the people He created. It was out of love, Jesus came to earth to die; and it is from His love that we can be revitalized given hope when all is lost. God desires we love Him with all that is within us. A love that grows over time.
The last brought the gift of myrrh. Quite an odd gift choice, as this spice was also used for embalming the dead. Imagine the young mother Mary and her husband Joseph, receiving these visitors- and receiving the gifts intended for the young Jesus. They must have known the gift of myrrh symbolized his coming death. But little did they know He would rise triumphantly from the grave as well, defeating the plans of the enemy of men.
We can also carry this glow as we look to Him. In the Old Testament, the Psalms give us this beautiful description: "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame."
I love this piece of Psalm 34. It reminds me that regardless of the evil I have done or continue to do, God himself waits to forgive me when I come to him in humility. This is the brightest and "sparkliest" of all Christmas messages! And I pray this is the Christmas message that rings in the depths of your soul- and may it be the Christmas message you pass on to those you know and love.
Merry Christmas to each of you! May His Love fill your home!
(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)