Saturday, December 18, 2010

Celebrating Christmas—The Gift of Frankincense

We don’t really know how many Wise Men came to worship the baby Jesus, 
but tradition claims there were three because there were three gifts:
gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 
All three were considered gifts appropriate for a king.
All three also have symbolic significance.

Frankincense is found in the scraggly but hardy Boswellia tree,
and is harvested by slashing the bark 
and allowing the resins to bleed out and harden. 
The hardened resins are called tears
Frankincense trees grow in very difficult environments 
where most plant life could never exist such as out of solid rock. 
How it attaches to the stone is unknown,
but a bulbous disk-like swelling of the trunk at the base of the tree
allows it to adhere and grow.
This growth prevents it from being ripped from the rock during violent storms 
that frequent the places the trees grow in. 
The bulbous swelling is slight or absent in trees grown in rocky soil or gravel.

Frankincense is used as a perfume,
but more significantly it was used as incense 
and burned on the altar of the Jewish temple as a symbol of prayers arising to God. 
Thus frankincense became a symbol of priesthood,
but more specifically the smoke rising
is a symbol that there is a connecting link 
between heaven and earth.

What a fitting gift frankincense was for the King of Kings,
the great High Priest
who is our connection with heaven.

1 comment:

Wendi said...

There is a lot of symbolism with this gift. Thank you for sharing this. I learned a lot. :)