A recent Sunday afternoon, I watched my wonderful grandchildren help Nana put the Christmas tree up and decorate it with all sorts of ornaments.
My heart was warmed as each time they placed a decorative ball or placed a golden bead this way or that, the joy on their faces was pure magic. When you're 9 and 7 years old, this day marked something very special, indeed, and what a moment to treasure.
Watching this scene unfold, I recalled Matthew 2 as the wise men (Magi) -- intelligent men, physicians, astrologers, teachers, folks who were not taken in by fantastic ideas but were now on a mission that many would consider a foolish endeavor -- they asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."
They heard that a child was born, a King, the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the world; they needed to see, they needed to worship, they needed to open their gifts. They had come ready.
"When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." -- Matthew 2:10-11
I considered that in our own humbled way, ornament by ornament, bead by bead, layer upon layer, a personalized ball here, a carefully placed snowflake there, we were offering up symbolic treasures of joy, love, gifts that last to eternity.
Many think that the gifts of the wise men were symbolic: Gold -- virtue, frankincense -- prayer, and myrrh -- suffering. Yet, the emphasis seems to be more on the fact that they came to worship; they bowed down and worshiped him, Jesus. That led them to opening their treasures and presenting the individual gifts.
What a spectacular and beautiful moment in history. In a very real and dynamic way, the gifts were symbolic of what was in their hearts. What was that? The truth that the Messiah was true and real. What a motivation to worship and opening heartfelt gifts.
In many ways, this time of year is an opportunity to reflect more deeply of these events.
Watching my grandchildren excitedly piece by piece, love by love, joy upon joy create a lifetime treasure by helping Nana decorate the Christmas tree. I pray that they understand that it's not so much about gifts but, instead, about Jesus.
After all, who are we really worshiping?