Today is Epiphany, marking the end of the Season of Christmas (I'm never sure as to whether Christmas is the First Day of Christmas, or Epiphany is the Twelfth; not that it matters all that much. . .) In some Christian traditions, mainly in the East, Epiphany, not Christmas, is the day for exchanging of gifts (after the example of the Magi, I suppose), and, at least in terms of public celebration, Epiphany is a bigger deal than Christmas is.
'Epiphany' means, literally, 'revelation' or 'manifestation'. Jesus might have been born on Christmas, but Epiphany is when He 'went public', so to speak. The readings for Epiphany rotate among the visit of the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12), the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:21-40), and Jesus' Baptism by John the Baptist (John 1:29-34). All of which represent, in varying ways, Jesus being 'made manifest' to the world He came to save.
I have especially come to appreciate the story of the Magi, and what it represents. There is a delightful irony in the fact that God, who forbade the Jews to practice astrology, gave the Magi a 'sign in the heavens', to announce the coming of His Son in the flesh to Gentiles. Of course, God knew that the learned Gentiles would notice, and be impressed by such a sign, and He wasn't above letting them know, in a way they could comprehend, that something big was going down in Bethlehem, and they wouldn't want to miss it. . . Put another way, the stars don't move us, God moves the stars. . . And even today, I suppose, God leaves signs of Himself to be noticed, and understood by those 'who have eyes to see, and ears to hear', even among secular modern folks.
And, oh, to be Simeon, or John the Baptist, waiting to see the Promised One, the Desired of the Nations, and then finally to see and recognize Him. I can understand Simeon saying, "Now, Lord, you can dismiss Your servant in peace". . . That was it; he was waiting to see the Messiah, and there He was. Now, so to speak, old Simeon could die happy. I have often wondered, if Jesus came today, would I recognize Him? Would I have the eyes and ears to see and hear when He came among us? Or would I be like those in Jesus' day who were so focused in on their own notions of 'what the Messiah will be like', or 'what God must be like', that they didn't recognize Him when He stood in their midst?
Oh, Lord, have mercy; let me have 'eyes to see, and ears to hear'. . .