Part 4: The Wise Men
This week, Pastor Michael Westfall shares the devotional as we close out the series, “WholeLifeWorship and the Christmas Story.” Michael is the Associate Pastor at GracePoint Church in Tigard, OR. His focus is about the Magi or Wise Men and how they brought hope through their WholeLifeWorship.
To start, I want to share a powerful story called A Boy’s Hope:
Several years ago a teacher assigned to visit children in a large city hospital received a routine call requesting that she visit a particular child. She took the boy’s name and room number and was told by the teacher on the other end of the line, “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework so he doesn’t fall behind the others.”
It wasn’t until the visiting teacher got outside the boy’s room that she realized it was located in the hospital’s burn unit. No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain. She felt that she couldn’t just turn and walk out, so she awkwardly stammered, “I’m the hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs.”
The next morning a nurse on the burn unit asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” Before she could finish a profusion of apologies, the nurse interrupted her: “You don’t understand. We’ve been very worried about him, but ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment…it’s as though he’s decided to live.”
The boy later explained that he had completely given up hope until he saw that teacher. It all changed when he came to a simple realization. With joyful tears he expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”
This story shows us how powerful it is when we bring even a simple act of hope to someone else that so desperately needs it. As WholeLifeWorshipers, God uses our simple actions of kindness and love in powerful ways – even in ways we least expect.
We see this in the story of the Wise Men or Magi (Matt. 2:1-12). This is a very familiar story and it’s easy to create assumptions on what we think it means. I have often thought that the star that the Wise Men followed to get to Jesus, was put there simply for them to be brought to the Newborn King.
But the more that I have studied this passage, the more that I believe that the star may have actually been put there, in God’s perfect timing and way, to bring renewed hope to Jesus and his parents.
You see, right after the Wise Men left, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee with his wife Mary and his son Jesus, to Egypt, because King Herod was looking for Jesus, to kill him. And the simple gifts that the Wise Men gave to Jesus (which was part of their WholeLifeWorship) brought more hope than they could have imagined.
Gold, enabled them to obtain food, water and shelter in their long journey to Egypt. It also sustained them for the two years they remained in exile there. Frankincense, also a precious resource that they could sell for sustenance (as well as keeping them smelling good on their grimy and long journey!) And Myrrh, which could be used for medicinal purposes to keep them protected from illness.
Think about this: If the Wise Men had never come to Joseph, Mary and Jesus, would they have had the hope and help that they needed to make it all the way to Egypt? Maybe. But maybe not.
Here’s the deal: Just like Joseph and Mary, there are people around us who need hope. Part of our WholeLifeWorship expression is to be “hope-givers” to others through kind acts, generosity, and words of encouragement. It honors God when we show love and compassion to others. As we do unto others, so we do unto Jesus (see Matt. 25:40).
And it doesn’t need to be a grand or complete gesture. As Jesus shared in Matt. 25:35-36, it could be a small thing: like giving a cup of cold water, a visit to someone who is discouraged, helping a sick person. Or teaching a burn victim how to use nouns and adverbs. God will multiply our small efforts to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Giving others hope, as the Wise Men did, is an act of WholeLifeWorship.
In your worship of Jesus this season, what small thing can you do to offer someone some hope?
I encourage you to take a few moments and ask the Holy Spirit, “What do You want me to do? Lord, I desire to be a vessel of hope in Your Name.” And then pause, be silent and give space for the Lord to speak to you and guide you.
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