We live a storied existence but often forget how God weaves those stories together. Jesus’ birth fleshes out biblical prophecies, and history forever changes. Jewish people were storytellers who passed on oral traditions. They knew their prophets; they anticipated messiah. But some Jewish leaders had failed to connect the plot points between prophetic utterance and the birth of the Christ.
The magi, however, seem more in tune with events and are heavily invested in the acts of the present moment. They seek an answer with head and heart. They ask the questions that need to be asked and listen intently to the answers as well as to their dreams. They respond to God’s invitation to follow. With sincerity they persist in their search, guided by God. I have always been fascinated by the word overjoyed (niv) and how it describes their emotions at the star’s reappearance.
When the wise men see Mary and Jesus, they fall down and worship, even though they do not fully understand the event. They offer their expensive gifts, probably never realizing anything beyond the fact that gold is a fitting gift for a king. Do they know that the priests used frankincense in Temple worship, thus signifying Jesus’ priesthood? And might they have fathomed that priests employed myrrh in anointing oil and for burials?
The wise men follow a mystery to its conclusion, going home by another way. Do they hear the walls of division crumbling as they return home?
May we be overjoyed and lost in the story, worshiping the Author who still writes the greatest stories ever told. May we patiently await their resolutions.
Isaiah 60:1-6 recalls the coming of God into the world as a brilliant light. That light carries with it the power to transform Israel so that those outside Israel are drawn to her light. Ephesians 3:1-12 points out God’s mysterious inclusion of the Gentiles among God’s people. The gift of light carries with it the obligation to accept and proclaim the inclusion of all out- siders. The psalm and Gospel passages draw on imagery of the king and his enthronement. For the psalmist, the king’s power and longevity must serve the purpose of the people’s good. The magi in Matthew are drawn by the light that marks the infant king’s birth and thus begin the process of outsiders who see in the gospel the mystery of salvation.
• Read Psalm 72:1-7; 10-14. How should we pray for our world’s leaders? What is our responsibility in working for justice and righteousness in our world today?
• Read Isaiah 60:1-6. Where have you seen evidence of God’s presence? How has God used you as a light to dispel dark- ness?
• Read Matthew 2:1-12. How do you respond when people ask you spiritual questions? In what ways have you sought the Lord and been sensitive to God’s guidance?
• Read Ephesians 3:1-12. How has God blessed you beyond your perceived boundaries?
Respond by posting a prayer.