“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
– Exodus 20:2-6
“After they had heard the king, the Magi 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
“’Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’”
– Jesus and a teacher of the law in Mark 12:32-34
Love for a thousand generations.
From the beginning of the story, God was love. In the end, his love will remain. While we hold onto hope, pray for peace, and see glimpses of joy in our everyday lives, God’s love covers it all. The only thing he has ever asked from us in return is to love him back and extend that love to others.
The Magi, renowned for their wisdom, noticed a star when it rose in the east and knew it was a sign. The birth of the king of the Jews, a ruler who prophets said would shepherd God’s people, was worth visiting and worshipping. They recognized the difference between the son of God and King Harrod. Their knowledge, intention, and sacrifice were rightfully placed at the feet of the child. With their eyes fixed upwards and their hands extended with gifts, they loved well.
There are many ways in which we as humans have sought to make it out of the messy middle of the story. When feeling enslaved in Egypt, it’s easy to forget Passover. Yet within a tiny swaddled package, love showed itself once and for all. The Magi knew it. The lifetimes before of burnt offerings and sacrifices of those who had wandered in the wilderness and returned to God would no longer be necessary. God was with us. His kingdom was near. Bowing down in love was what the wisest among us did.
God with us, You love us so well! You have always done so and you always will. We are deeply sorry for all the ways in which we turn from you instead of love you back. Help us to be more like the Magi, loving you and others through knowledge, intention, and sacrifice. You deserve all our worship now and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
› In your daily life, what does experiencing God’s love look like for you? How does what you know of Christ impact your love for him?
› How did the Magi model their love through knowledge, intention, and sacrifice? What can you do to follow in their footsteps?
› In what areas of your life is it easy to forget God’s love for you? How can we as Christians continue to live in God’s love and invite others to receive it?
Everyday Ways to Love One Another
Giving comes in many shapes and forms. It is something that is both life-giving for the giver and the receiver. Here are some fun ideas of ways that you could extend love to others during this season and all year long.
- Voice the nice things you think
- Pay for a stranger’s meal
- Plan creative virtual meet-ups with friends or family
- Create a “mix-tape” playlist for a loved one
- Write encouragement notes and put them where others will find them
- Make spontaneous care packages, just to brighten someone’s day
- Make and deliver a handmade gift
- Create a collection of letters for someone
- Take note of people’s favorites, so that you can give intentionally in the future
- Do someone else’s chores for them
- When a person needs prayer, stop and pray with them in the moment
- Give anonymously