On this 12th day of Christmas, Christians celebrate the Epiphany of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem to the three kings. "We three kings of Orient are . . ."
Our family's nativity resides under our Christmas tree; my husband's family began the tradition as a reminder that the true gift at Christmas is the birth of Jesus. My stepfather fashioned our nativity figures from wood and engraved the detailed faces by hand. During these dark days of winter, I cherish quiet time gazing into those faces, lit only by the lights of my Christmas tree. I sense their wonder and delight. The animals' faces are peaceful, for a stable is home. The shepherd's expression reveals comfort, grateful for shelter. The countenance of the angel is tenderly joyful. The gaze of Mary, mother of the new babe, as well as that of her faithful husband, Joseph, is adoring. All as one would expect. And what of the three kings? It doesn't seem so obvious that their gaze would be full of admiration and reverence. After all, they were wise and prominent and wealthy. Why, then, would they have been so taken by this infant born in secret to common folk? It is believed that they had been studying the celestial patterns and knew that the star they followed was to take them to this new king. And they believed. And they followed. And they brought gifts. ". . . bearing gifts we traverse afar."
The kings brought gifts of gold (most precious metal), frankincense (incense), and myrrh (an embalming oil) to a newborn prophesied to be the new king, the great king, who would rule with love. Their gifts were given as an expression of respect and love. Magnificent! May we follow in the footsteps of the three wise kings and bear respect and love in all we do, trusting that we will be led to the perfect light of love and joy in the world. "O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect light."
author of "JOY"