Sharing the HEART of Christmas

My family and I send Christmas wishes for peace, love, joy, and the HEART of health to you and all those you love.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,

“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 

And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

(Luke 2:11–14)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

figures in a nativity scene with a bright start in the sky
Happy Christmas friends.

If you are grieving the loss of someone you love, please know that I care. My husband and I have lost several friends this year, to COVID and other illnesses. We miss our parents and siblings every year, having lost them many years ago. Time does not make their abscence any easier, as I’m sure is true for you.

I pray you’ll find comfort in sharing love with those still here, whether in person or at a distance. My family and I send Christmas wishes for peace, love, joy, and the HEART of health to you and all those you love.

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

I would love to have you join me in 2022 to explore the HEART of health together. Subscirbe below. Thank you so much.

in faith, hope, and love always

an evergreen wreath with holly

Doctor Aletha

Why we need the wisest gifts this Christmas

The four Gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke, John- relate the life of Jesus, but only Matthew and Luke tell the story of his birth and their versions differ. Luke tells about the trip to Bethlehem and the shepherds’ visit. Matthew misses the Bethlehem journey and the shepherds, but from him we meet the wise men- the Magi.

Whether you go to a Christian church or not, you likely are familiar with the Christmas story in the Bible as it is depicted in the Nativity. Nativity is a fancy way to say “birth,” but is especially used to refer to the birth of Jesus Christ.

A young couple named Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem for the Roman census.

Mary, pregnant, unexpectedly delivered a baby boy there-in a barn, the only available accommodation on short notice

Local shepherds, directed by angels, came to visit the baby.

And “three wise men”, following a star, came to visit bearing expensive gifts.

3 men dressed as magi, bearing gifts

Except that’s not exactly how the Bible tells it. The four Gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke, John- relate the life of Jesus, but only Matthew and Luke tell the story and their versions are different. Luke tells about the trip to Bethlehem and the shepherds’ visit. Matthew misses the shepherds, but from him we learn about the wise men.

Most Bible versions call them wise men, a translation of a Greek word Magi, used in the New International Version. The Message Bible calls them “a band of scholars” which might be the most accurate as none of the versions indicate there were only three.

Nor did they visit the barn. Matthew indicates they came to the house, to visit the child. So perhaps this was as much as two years later.

But however many there were and whenever they arrived, they brought three gifts-gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men— who brought gifts to the newborn Christ-child. They were the first to give Christmas gifts. Being wise, their gifts were doubtless wise ones.

O. Henry

The Gifts of the Magi (no spoiler alert needed)

In a previous post I told you about William Sydney Porter, the author of this story. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell the story here, I don’t want to spoil it if you’ve never read it.

I assume William, the real name of O. Henry, must have known this Bible story. Why else would a druggist, ranch hand, magazine editor, and convicted felon write a story about Magi?

As a druggist (although of uncertain credentials) I suspect he knew of the medicinal properties attributed to gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We think of gold’s value in terms of money, but 2000 years ago, people probably valued healing substances more than money.

Doctors once treated rheumatoid arthritis with medicines developed from gold,now mostly replaced with more effective and less toxic drugs. Traditional Chinese medicine uses frankinsense and myrhh for their reported anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

As I write this, scientists are working around the clock studying medicines and vaccines to slow, cure, and prevent the ravages of SARS-CoV-2, a pathogen the world has never encountered before and the likes of one we never want to deal with again. By the time you read this probably over 50 million people worldwide will have become infected with this novel virus which will have killed 1.5 million of them.

The world needs healing this year. People have suffered through several pandemics since the time of Christ’s birth. Imagine how frightening the plagues were at a time when science couldn’t explain the source of disease, much less know how to prevent it. Even as recently as the influenza pandemic of 1918, the means of spread was not well understood and medicines to treat it and it’s complications didn’t exist.

Christian scholars also attribute spiritual significance to the gifts. Among the many references I reviewed, this one sums up the general consensus.

“gold can be taken to symbolise royalty and kingship; frankincense divinity and holiness; and myrrh suffering and death.”

Although we have no record to indicate O.Henry thought of the gifts in spiritual terms, he conveyed an unexpected and ironic picture of what “wise gifts” are.

Perhaps the wisest gifts we can give this year of so much, loss, friction, unrest, blaming, loss,pain, sickness and death are understanding, patience, listening, caring, generosity, forgiveness, friendship, and love.

It’s worth reading, or re-reading the story; watching or listening to it. Do it before you start Christmas shopping; you may change some of your choices. And we should all thank William, aka O.Henry, for leaving us the gift of

The Gift of the Magi

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