Treasure Chest (12-01-2021)
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
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 2:1-12)
So they (the shepherds) went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:16-20)
Two Sundays ago I was doing the Gospel reading in the service from Scaldwell. The reading was a very well-known one, for we were celebrating Epiphany, it was Matthew 2:1-12. Rob very kindly printed out the reading for me, as it appears in the Lectionary, and I have used the same translation at the beginning of this thought for the day, so you can see what I read. Even though the reading was very familiar to me I always practise reading it out loud several times at home before the day to ensure I don’t get myself tongue tied over any of it. It always surprises me which part of the reading causes me to stumble and with this reading it was the phrase ‘treasure chests’. Now, there is nothing particularly difficult about saying ‘treasure chests’ but the more I said it the stranger it sounded.
Last week I packed away our Christmas decorations and I took down our Christmas cards. I sorted through the Christmas cards to see if there were any that I particularly wanted to keep, for I have my own treasure chest at home; as I sit and type this, it is behind me. I have had it so long (well over 40 years) that I can’t remember being without it. Unlike the wise men my treasure chest does not contain anything of any monetary value, nothing that anyone would wish to steal; there is no gold in my chest. What there is are things that I treasure because they are of sentimental value to me, things that would mean nothing to anyone else but mean a lot to me. There are things from my childhood including some well-loved toys and some of my old school exercise books, there are cards sent from loved ones on special occasions and shells collected by an old neighbour that she thought I would like.
This reminded me of the words in Luke 2 where it says that ‘Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.’ We place in our treasure chests things that we treasure, things that we want to keep, things that we want to reflect on and remember. Mary placed in her heart the things that she had been told about her son. It is all too easy for us to think that Christmas is over now that the decorations are down and put away, but we need to treasure within us the message of Christmas, the hope for the world, the light that came into the darkness, so that when we need to, we can open our treasure chests and reflect on the light and hope that we have within us.
Thank you God for the light and hope that came into the world at Christmas. May we always live with the joy of Christmas within us, the light of your word to guide us and your love to comfort us.