Merry Little Christmas! I hope you still have your Christmas tree up and some lighted garland around the house! Today is a very special day! Today is the day that we celebrate the visit of the three wise man to the stable in Bethlehem — it is the Feast of Epiphany.
This feast ends the 12 days of Christmas- and what a lovely way to end. I love this day of Christmas because it is one more opportunity to focus on the amazing gift of the Incarnation, without all the chaos of Christmas!
As I shared last year, Little Christmas has always been a special time for our family. Having had many hospitalizations around the holidays, this day has served as a “do-over” for Christmases spent in the PICU. For more than a few years, we have waited to exchange gifts until Little Christmas because of Johanna being critically ill. In other years, we have reserved special gifts for the day or gone out for lunch to celebrate the end of the Christmas season.
Whether you adapt traditions that include Little Christmas or not, we are wise to meditate on the gifts inherent in the visit of the Magi to baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
The Magi went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:9-11).
Interestingly, there is no mention of the how many wise men or magi came to the stable.
The reason we assume there were three is because that’s how many gifts were given. Before they found Jesus, the wise man paid a visit to Herod, the King, who was less than thrilled at the prophecies the Magi shared about the new King born in Bethlehem. In truth, Herod sought to distract them from their purpose of adoring the Babe and instead, having them report back to him so that he could destroy the newborn King.
In meditating on this event, it is good to see ourselves on the journey with the wise men. Two questions we could ask ourselves are “what am I seeking and how will I get there?”
Like the wise men, we too can be easily distracted by negative voices in our head which seem bent on destroying our confidence in ourselves and in the Lord’s love for us. At the manger with the Magi, we have an opportunity to dothat which we were created to do; to place our gifts at the feet of our Savior.
Even in a secular context that may be devoid of religion, there is an acknowledgement that when we operate out of our gifts, especially offering them to the service of others, we feel most accomplished and complete. Here the Magi lead the way.
This time of year we tend to focus on New Year Resolutions. If you haven’t made yours — or if you have and broken them already – consider writing new resolutions based on your gifts.
Gallup has done a great job clarifying gifts or strengths in their strength finder series of books and online resources (http://strengths.gallup.com/ default.aspx). Gallup’s Strength Finder series (they even have one for kids now), is founded on the principle that when we are operating from our strengths we tend to lead more productive and happy lives.
Sometimes we make resolutions hoping that we can achieve that sought after goal that seems just beyond our reach; get more organized, lose weight, make more money. We think if we just try harder, we can get it done. Resolutions usually fail because we are focusing our weaknesses instead of our strengths.
Learn a lesson from the Magi:
1. Discover your gifts.
2. Find your the star, set the course and go.
3. When the negative thoughts and obstacles stand in the way, find another way.
4. Lay it all down at the feet of Jesus; surrender your gifts and trust Him
This year, I resisted the temptation to make arbitrary resolutions. Instead, I went to the Lord in prayer and just asked God, “What are we working on this year?”
God answered; “Take care of yourself, give your heart to Me and the rest will come.”
As I tucked this word in my heart and tried to make some practical applications, I identified three areas that I needed to focus on: body (health, home and career) mind(stop the automatic negative thoughts or “ANTS”, commit to counseling) and spirit (personal and communal prayer, spiritual direction.)
Because I know my gifts pretty well, I started to set some goals and make some significant changes. Here’s my list of simple resolutions:
1. Take care of my body.
I recently discovered a great program that integrates scripture meditations and reflection with excellent resources for weight loss and maintaining balance.It works really well with the program I use for myself and my clients. I also am doing a Pilates class online at home and strength training at the gym twice a week.
2. Enrich my mind:
I am back in school for an online coaching certification. I found one that is really a great fit for my budget and my life. It’s well structured with much support, but flexible enough for me to use while I am caring for Johanna. I also am keeping my previous commitment to regular counseling.
2. Restore my Spirit:
I will honor my need and commitment to daily prayer and reflection and meet with my spiritual director monthly.
These are just examples of three simple gifts I can offer my Lord and myself. These respect my strengths and help me to reach my ultimate goal of deeper surrender and trust. Integrating a wellness lifestyle with a spiritual focus acknowledges my gifts and desires and puts them to work for me to achieve my goals.
Celebrate Little Christmas today by embracing your own gifts and offering them with the Magi at Jesus’ feet. If we persevere on the journey, following the light of God’s love, as they did the star, we will finally reach our destination.
– See more at: http://riverheadlocal.com/life-on-purpose/epiphany-a-day-to-reflect-on-gifts#sthash.A70mC5Pw.dpuf