December 22, 2008

The Sunday before Christmas...

It was the Sunday before Christmas this year, and we had the Sunday School children presenting the special songs, skit and nativity for Christmas.. It was a very 'cute' presentation indeed, just as Uncle Prince David called it..

As he took over the pulpit to deliver the Sunday's message, he gave us a reality show of the nativity and effectively illustrated the then circumstances and the political, social and judicial framework that existed. The essence of it, perhaps was the way he questioned the audience for response in case the same situation today occurred. If one had adequate ability of imagination, it was a virtual re-living of the times of the birth of Jesus.

  • For example, if today there was a call for ‘census registration’, that you had to register at the place of your birth, how convenient it would be to trace and travel to the place of your birth?
  • For women, they had to travel with their husbands to his place of birth; as if her existence and her place of birth didn’t have any significance, at least anywhere on official registers.
  • What financial, physical and psychological impact it would have had on you to make necessary travel arrangements and take leave from your workplace to travel back to your place of birth for registration?
  • Given the rush of travelers, the public means of transport would be running full and all the hotels /  inns would have no space to accommodate you, what would you do?
  • Moreover, you’ve got your wife with you who’s about to deliver a child any time now, what would you be going through?

Amidst all these questions, “the nativity we see in children’s presentation suddenly loses its ‘cuteness’,” he remarked. The meditation went on to examine the gifts wise men brought to Jesus.

Ah! That we were experiencing virtual reality of the times of Jesus’ birth, a few questions went off again…

First— What all security arrangements would we make while traveling with some precious items?  

Specially while journeying in trains, we hide precious items somewhere deep inside the baggage and not only lock our baggage, but we lock them with chains under the seats, and place them where we can keep a watch… Air travelers secure their baggage with insurance as well… So, it must have actually cost the wise men to first procure the gifts that they wished to bring. Also, that they were valuable, they had to perhaps have adequate security arrangements with them by taking along with them necessary guards and sundry… There was a meditation on this for few minutes. The message brought out the difference between a sacrificial gift and a contribution that we make to Jesus; that unless it hurts in giving a gift, it’s only a contribution. Also illustrated by the Pig & Chicken story.

Second— If there were some wise-women instead of wise-men, what gifts would they’ have brought for Jesus?

It was a complete chance for the women to answer, some said Diapers, some said baby clothing, some milk bottle and other necessities they guessed. Given the contrast coming from the responses against the gifts of the wise-men, there was a meditation on the gifts offered by the wise-men.

  • Gold— Given that gold was even more rare and a royal possession, in those days; and the fact that Mary and Joseph had to leave their country and travel to Egypt, which was an unknown land, Gold may have helped Joseph to sustain a living by exchanging it for some money over a period of time. Perhaps one of God’s arrangements to secure their financial sustenance in the days to come..
  • Frankincense— This has a special significance religiously as frankincense was used extensively in performing religious rites, and it also represented life. In Egypt, frankincense was used extensively, and perhaps, this gift received by Mary & Joseph would have not only helped in personal usage, but also as a means for trade in a new land they were stepping into.
  • Myrrh— This too, had a special significance religiously and was highly valuable. It was also used for embalming human bodies after death, this is seen as a gift which was referring to the future of the life of Jesus.

In whole, the three gifts represent royalty, priesthood & life and death… In the midst of how many troubles that surround us, God does take care of our needs at all times..

Well, soon after Church service, we’d entered into a time of Fellowship lunch, and it all ended on a very good note of fellowship!
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