An Advent Reading for Thursday, December 21

Hymn 117, As with Gladness Men of Old

A second reflection on Matthew 2:2, see last page

   November and December are times of the year when most of our community, and certainly our church, turn to thoughts of thanksgiving and joy. Many of us will sing the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth” at Thanksgiving services. But did you know there is an even older hymn that uses the same tune?
   “As with Gladness Men of Old” tells the story of the three wise men who are led by a bright star from their homes in the Far East to find the Christ-Child and worship Him. The song ends with a stanza describing how one day those who find Christ will live “in that heav’nly country bright, need they no created light.” 
   Oh that we all could live today with that hope of heaven before us! And we can—we must be watching for the leading light of Jesus and pursue it to Him. Upon finding Christ and accepting Him we, like the three wise men, will recognize Him and worship Him with our lives.

   So may we with holy joy,
   Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
   All our costliest treasures bring,
   Christ to thee, our heav’nly King.

   The story of the wise men should call us all to desire to be wise. The lesson we learn from them, leaving the world of comfort and ease behind to see Jesus, applies today as it did 2000 years ago. Even if we are not familiar with all the hymns celebrating “The Epiphany,” (the finding of Christ) we can recognize the joy of Christmas and “pursue the star” with the gladness of the men of old.

Steve Rodgers