Magi Journey Towards Light and Their Discovery of Christ-Hope, Christ-Joy, Christ-Love, Christ-Peace
It’s from Armenian tradition that we understand that these three travellers were kings from three different places named: Balthasar from Arabia, Melchior from Persia, and Gaspar from India. They came bringing treasures from their various countries to worship the newborn One, all as the result of having seeing and followed this curious heavenly light which drew them all the way to the nativity stable where Joseph and Mary had given birth to their infant, Jesus.
There is lots of mythology which has been allowed to develop within Christian tradition around this text. Some argue that there were probably up to 12 of these travellers, travelling with their pretty elaborate entourages. Also, that they were not ‘kings’ so much as kingly advisors: part of those whom their kings would consult for interpretation of dreams and astrological signs. While legend does suggest that they were from Africa and Persia and India, all scripture actually says is that they were from the ‘East’ – most now believing probably Arabia – and that they travelled on horseback with the traditional camels we associate with them as their pack animals.
But as for that mysterious heavenly light: some suggest it was a comet or some other natural phenomenon, the North Star…but really? I wonder? Why didn’t EVERYONE see it? And if they could see it, why wasn’t everyone’s curiosity raised enough also to want to see what it meant – not even neurotic King Herod?
I think that it’s pretty significant that it was just them – whoever and whatever they were, and from wherever they were coming – who were given to see and then to feel compelled to follow it and, as a result, got to meet the Christ-child with their gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh. Gold: which was always associated with recognising royalty. It was also the stuff of deepest holiness – kata 1 Kgs 6:20-22, used within the holiest of holies in the temple. As with the Frankincense: which was burnt in the sacred rituals of temple worship. Was this their recognising of both royalty as well as the God-presence somehow present in the birth of this child? And the Myrrh: a perfume used within anointing oils as a key spice in the preparation of anointing the dead. It’s as if the Wise Men were recognising/foretelling the vital place of death in the life of this newborn babe…
And so we have these travellers’ and their sacred encounter, all the result of their being given to recognise and follow that curious and wonderful light – a God-light – light that came ultimately to illuminate their sacred nativity encounter.
Over the next 4 weeks to Christmas watch for God’s light as we also following… you know, as it leads us to the celebration of Christ’s birth. While of course we will always fall short of ever being able fully to appreciate what Christ’s birth means to us, as we journey we will be exploring the 4 Advent-dynamics illuminated by Christ’s sacred presence shining into, within and out from us.
Next week, we will look at the HOPE that we have exposed to us because of him.
After a year of so much loss, some tangible as well as so much that is intangible: I think of our loss of routine, familiarity, loss of trust… Loss in all its forms, our loss of meaningful contact with others. We could be advertising next week’s service as Blue Christmas – a time to acknowledge the very real and dark sadness we all feel gnawing within us, but as we do that we may also risk being open to receive the illuminating comfort of Christ’s own hope. For this is the One for whom even death wasn’t just the end, but a whole new beginning…
That will be the context next week for the lighting our first Advent candle of HOPE.
Dec 6 is the second Sunday of Advent. That`s when we will be addressing all that conspires to steal the best of our lives, all that cheapens and disillusions and demotivates us, drags us down – and how our awareness of Christ’s presence already birthed into our worlds works against that to restore our JOY.
On Dec 13 we will celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent. We’ll be lighting Christ’s candle of LOVE to mark what by faith we know is at the essence of so much of what our relationship with God, ourselves, others and all creation is actually all about. LOVE…
On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Dec 20, we light the candle of PEACE. And so we will be readying ourselves to make room for celebrating Christ’s birth once again into our lives.
Like those Magi, each of us are on a journey. While we understand this journey may be different for each of us, we know that it’s the light of that same Christ which is constantly at work illuminating/exposing where and who we actually are, loving who we actually are, and leading us into an ever deepening appreciation of what all that means…
Could I invite you to join Linda and me in lighting your own Advent wreath candles this year, lighting one each Sunday to mark our Christmas journey toward re-owning Christ’s HOPE, JOY, LOVE AND PEACE. Your Advent wreath may be something you already have and may have used for many years. It may be something your children made. It may be something you buy now. It may be something you make, simply using whatever you may have available. We have a wreath made from a piece of driftwood that is special to us and which we use each year, but for you it may simply be some tea-lights arranged on a plate. Whatever you have, I’m inviting us to light each successive candle together as we make this our own personal pilgrimage towards Christmas.
As we do so, may the leading/drawing/blessing of God’s Christ light be very real for you and through you for others this year, in Jesus Name
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