It is the myrrh that’s the problem
I have recently discovered the fine blogging of Canon Gordon Reid on the Saintclementsblog (that’s how they write it). It’s a good mix of humor, faith, teaching, and devotion. He writes about the Epiphany, reminding us that this feast day has a traditional subtitle: “The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles”. After an imagined conversation among an early missionary and a seeker, Reid writes this:
And so the adventure got off the ground in Ethiopia, in Greece and Asia, in Italy and England, in Australia and the United States of America, in Africa and Asia. And still, it is the myrrh that’s the problem – people are quite keen on power (gold) – though they may call it influence – and worship (incense) – though they may call it spirituality – but when we modern Magi bring up the myrrh (suffering, self-sacrifice and death) they call us morbid. But it is they who are the “grave” people: we are the ones who can no longer be oppressed by the grave, because we are going home another way like the Wise Men. And like the Prodigal Son, what a party we will have! See you there!
That’s about right for our time. We’re good on the “God loves you” part of our faith, but we’re less good on the “you must die daily to sin” part of the message. But, of course, without death there is no resurrection. So, this Epiphany, amidst all the wonderful carols, the golden vessels, the wafting clouds of incense, and the joy of guiding light, let us not forget the myrrh. We need the myrrh.