They have finally arrived at the nativity! From the Christmas decoration box they are finally reunited with the animals, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. It is Epiphany after all!
It’s a strange and interesting story that we remember on January 6th each year. After the 12 day season of Christmas, we finally welcome to our nativity scene three wise men. Tradition tells us that these men were kings, wise men, or magi likely from the area of Iran or Iraq since the Gospel of Matthew tells us that they followed the star westward, from the east to Jerusalem then Bethlehem.
Tradition also says that there were three wise men since there were three gifts listed in Scripture. It is likely that there were more who traveled together such a long distance with servants. They are often referred to as Magi in Matthew, which is the only Gospel to tell us about them. They would have likely been astrologers with an understanding in science.
Matthew doesn’t tell us much about their backgrounds. Coming from the east, it is likely that they were not of Jewish background, yet they came seeking something unique, something sacred. They sensed a larger life quest to seek this truth from the star they saw in the sky.
They followed the star seeking this king with the desire to worship and bring gifts. Caspar, Melchoir, and Balthazar, as tradition have named them, had trust that their quest would lead to some mystical king beyond this world.
The wise men trusted their calling to follow the star. There are many stars in our world today seeking our willingness to follow making us believe that we will find something unique and sacred. Whether that’s a quest to find truth and meaning in career, hobbies, possessions and power; the world will try to steer us to follow those other so called “stars”.
Herod and empire will always try to lead us astray. Even when we think we’re going the right way and following the right star, there will be times that we have to pause in the desert of life and consider which way we will go. Power and empire will never lead us to Emmanuel. Violence and military might will never take us to the Prince of Peace. Seeking status or more of everything will never guide us to the light of life.
The Wise Men were wise to follow the right star to the right King. May we have the same wisdom and courage to do the same this year.
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star of royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light. Amen.