I enjoy sharing this picture in this week just after the New Year to remind us that Christmas in the scripture is not quite over. Traditionally January 6 is remembered as the day the “wise men” arrived at what Matthew calls “the room.” In church, we have a special word for this day; we call it “Epiphany.” This year January 6 falls on a Sunday, and so our worship this Sunday will consider what the presence of the wise men and their gifts have to add to the story of the birth of Jesus.
That meaning is caught up in the word “epiphany” which is an odd word, but not quite foreign to many of us. Epiphany means recognizing something or someone in a new way or seeing something in a new light. The light for the wise men in the story is “the star.” And stars such as the one these wise men followed in the ancient world were thought to be divine guidance. In the scripture, these “wise men” follow God’s star to Jesus.
There is a lot more to say about who these wise men really were and how they tell a very different part of the story as we read about them in Matthew. They tell of what goes on behind the scenes, in the places of power and influence, instead of the more desperately common and ordinary manger scene in Luke. We’ll find out that the sentimental scene we are used to dressing up and displaying each Christmas Eve quickly gives way to a more realistic version of life in this sometimes tragic, sometimes-beautiful world.
I don’t mean to so quickly wipe the smiles off the faces of our wise men in the picture above, but life has by now returned to something like normal for Dan, Spencer, Nick and the rest of us. Given this, what gets me about the wise men is that they recognize that even they need divine guidance to deliver their gifts to the Christ child, and as the scripture will remind us, to also find their way back home.
Keep the Faith,