Advent stories and messages from around the world
December 23, 2021
The Poinsettia plant first arrived in the United States in the early 19th century. The plant is named for the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett. He brought the plant back to the United States after he found them growing wild in the wilderness of Mexico.
Today poinsettias are a part of a tradition in the U.S. We even use the plants to decorate the church’s altars at Christmas. The poinsettia even has its own holiday. December 12 is National Poinsettia Day in honor of the plant and the man who brought them to America.
A Mexican legend tells of a little girl (Pepita) who only had weeds to give as a gift for Jesus on Christmas Eve. But, when she brought the weeds into the church, they blossomed into the red plants we know call poinsettias. In Mexico, they are known as Flores de Noche Buena (Spanish for “The flowers of the holy night. “
Today, poinsettias are still grown in southern Mexico and exported to the U.S. each year for Christmas. The shape of the poinsettia brings to mind the star that the Wise Men followed to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and eventually Jesus.
It’s amazing the things God does to make His plans come to fruition. He set a special star in the western sky for the wise men/Magi to follow. (The Bible says they came from the east).
It’s commonly believed that the wise men came from Iraq, Iran, or Saudi Arabia. For the sake of argument, let’s say they came from Iraq. The distance from Baghdad to Jerusalem is over 600 miles. That’s a two-and-a-half-hour flight in a jet plane today. The problem is the wise men probably came by camel. This wasn’t a two- or three-day journey. Their travel time would have been weeks. Likely, they didn’t start out in the direction of Jerusalem until after Jesus was born. After the wise men left Jerusalem, they had an additional six miles to of travel to Bethlehem
Wait! That would mean the wise men weren’t at the birth; they weren’t in the stable. Let’s see what the Bible says (again) 😊:
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi2:1 Traditionally wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel? Micah 5:2,4“
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose 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, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” Matthew 2:1-12
The Bible is very specific. The wise men/Magi didn’t arrive at a stable, barn, or cave and see Jesus immediately following His birth. Instead, they showed up weeks, if not months after Christ’s birth. By this time, Joseph had probably established himself in the community as a carpenter and purchased a home for his family.
It’s incredible, isn’t it.? The wise men/Magi travel well over 600 miles following a star that led them first to Jerusalem and finally to Jesus’ home in Bethlehem.
There is a bit of irony here, though. As far as the wise men traveled, how many times are we unwilling to travel 1, 2, 5, or even 10 miles to go to church on Sunday and worship Jesus.
Make sure that you and your family take time this Christmas and every week to travel as far as you must to spend time worshipping our King, Jesus.
Dear Lord. You are amazing. You used a special star to bring the wise men hundreds of miles to see the Christ child. We can presume that when they returned to their homeland, they shared the experience with others. Help us to share your love with others and share the story of Your Son, the baby born to die for our sins. Amen.