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Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by John Howard Farmer

Visit the Irvington Baptist Church website

Perhaps Christmas Should Make Us Wiser

For most of the Christmases that my families, one and two, and I have shared, we have mused about the various Christian symbols, and how they have affected us, individually. Many a time I have sought to emphasize the season by dwelling upon the innocence of the Christ Child. 

Yet it is his innocence alone. For mine only comes through his vicarious suffering upon the cross. He repurchased for me that which sin had stolen.

On other occasions, I have sought the persona of Mary as my seasonal example. She is such a witness of faithfulness. Try as I might it hasn’t lifted me to the heights I’d wish.

The shepherds and their quest for the spot lighted by a star stirs my heart about hope and purpose.

The animals standing in their wonderment at such a lowly stall, with such a heavenly gift, bring me to a point of celebration. There they leave me.

The angel messenger cries aloud about the coming of the baby-savior.

I have decided that my best Christmas symbol, from the Nativity of Christ, is that of the wisemen. They set out on a journey, not knowing of their destination. They inquired of those in the know, for direction’s sake. They recognized the potential for evil in powerful places. They pressed toward the mark.

They lassoed me however; by the fact that they came, they saw, they departed. The magnificent gift of the Nativity for them was that it caused them to change. They brought gifts expecting no return. They left different from when they came. How be it that we might do likewise this Christmas?

They went home a different way. That’s my hope for everyone this Christmas. The hope that we will all be changed by the event of Christ’s birth gives me goose bumps. Imagine if we all meditated upon the Nativity and our emerging faith would send us forward different from when we peered into cattle stall and bales of hay.

A contemporary Christmas poem written by American author Margaret Rorke (1915 – 2000), speaks volumes about the Christmas season. Let’s share in the reading: The Wiser Wisemen (Christmas Could-Be Tales, and Other Verses), North Woods Institute Press, (1984).

They call me ‘Casper,’ One of three who rode on camel back across the desert’s sandy sea to bring a treasure pack of frankincense and myrrh and gold to place before a king, the kind of gifts in days of old a worshipper would bring.

We found the king, an infant child not in a palace bed, but with his mother, meek and mild, within a lowly shed.

We knelt and gave him what we brought, expecting no return, Yet from his countenance we caught what wise men have to learn: Though man may give symbolic gifts, they never can compare with what God gives and how it lifts the hopes and fears all share.

We saw his son—a baby-boy, and, as we took our leave, he gave his giftthe gift of joy all mankind may receive.”

The line “expecting no return” haunts me.

Most years, our home is decorated with lots of seasonal color. About the house are many symbols of the holidays. Most evident however, is our collection of wisemen. We really didn’t set out to collect them. There’s just something so special about them that they catch our eye in shop and store.

Some were given to us. Others were made for us. Some we bought. Others we inherited.

They adorn shelves, tables, walls and tree. I am still fascinated by their example. What a testimony. They brought the best that they had. They presented it to an unknown child, whom they recognized to be our savior. They expected no return. What they got; however, was a life changing event.

What better Christ gift could we wish for ourselves and others?

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