My wife grew up in Argentina, where Epiphany is celebrated as the Day of the Magi Kings. Preparations are made the night before. Children leave out a pair of shoes, along with grass and water for the kings' camels. They awaken the next day to find the grass and water scattered; in their place are presents which have been carefully left by each child's shoes. This day was always much bigger than Christmas, though that has changed somewhat in recent years.
These traditions have their basis in the story of the wise men from the east, as told in the gospel of Matthew:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him" (Matthew 2:1-2).
These men came to find the child, Jesus, who was living in a house there in Bethlehem. When they found him, they worshiped him and presented him with gifts:
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 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 and of incense and of myrrh" (Matthew 2:9-11).
Modern society has turned this event. Instead of giving gifts to Jesus, we give them to one another. Instead of looking for a king to worship, we focus our attention on one another.
This year, may I suggest that you follow the example of these men from the east? Rather than choosing one day out of the year to accumulate more presents, why don't you dedicate all of 2015 to the Christ child? Like the wise men, you should:
- Seek him: Don't let Jesus merely be part of ancient history; make him a part of your life.
- Learn about him: Study the Bible, especially the gospels, to learn about Jesus and what he did for you.
- Worship him: Recognize that Jesus isn't just a great moral teacher; he is Lord and Savior.
- Give to him: Give him the one gift that only you can give — yourself!
That's the best way to commemorate what was done all those years ago.