Come, then, banish all your sadness, one and all, great and small; come with songs of gladness
Love Him who with love is glowing, hail the star, from afar, light with joy bestowing.
In this morning’s sermon text from Matthew 2, we find the story of the “wise men from the east” and the star they observed which hailed the birth of a king. These picturesque images have found their way into many of the hymns we sing during this season (and many a slightly historically inaccurate nativity scene), such as the beloved The First Noel. Written in six stanzas (of which we’ll sing three at different points in this morning’s service), this English carol invites us to relate in song the night of Jesus’ birth, the arrival of the wise men from the east, and our own corporate response to the incarnation. As With Gladness Men Of Old directly compares our own position to that of the wise men: “As they offered gifts most rare … so may we with holy joy, pure and free from sin’s alloy, all our costliest treasures bring, Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.” Likewise, the Appalachian folk carol Lovely Child, Holy Child has us taking the Wise Men as an example: “Infant King, fairest King, gifts we’ll bring and anthems sing.” The final hymn of the morning, What Child Is This, makes a further application: though receiving gold and incense, Christ was guarded by shepherds and born in a stable. The babe in Mary’s lap would bear the cross for both peasants and kings—indeed, he would die, “for me, for you.” —Henry C. Haffner
Key Words: Wise Men, King, Worship, Prophet, Search, Star, Gifts, Dream
Keystone Verse: And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. (Matthew 2:6)
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found Him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.