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January-February 2021 - Camino a Belén

January 1, 2021 by Katherine A. Kimball
Artist: Marie Tere Pérez (Puerto Rico, Contemporary)

Wise men.  Kings.  Magi.  Called by different names, their story appears in Matthew 2:1-12.  They followed a star that guided them to Bethlehem where they encountered the Christ child and gave him “gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11, NRSV).

The three figures depicted on the cover are arrayed in the way that we would imagine kings to be.  Each one wears a bejeweled crown and offers a magnificent gift.  But the majestic, brightly colored figures hold out their gifts and look downward, perhaps a sign of humility.  This posture is not what we might expect from earthly kings.  The star appears above them indicating that they have traveled the “Camino a Belén” — the road to Bethlehem — and have now arrived to present their gifts to the child.

The kings have unique crowns, faces, robes, and gifts — the artist uses wide, dark borders to create a unique shape and identity for each one.  At the same time, the lines merge and blend, binding the three together in community as they share a new identity shaped by their experience of seeking the Christ child.  The striking geometric shapes and colors of their faces direct our eyes toward the gifts they have brought with them.  Who are these figures to us today, and what do they represent?  Perhaps they are us, each unique but part of a community bound together as followers of the child born in Bethlehem.


Cover art courtesy of Marie Tere Pérez.  © 2012 Marie Tere Pérez. Prints of cover art are available from www.maruarte.com.


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