The Wise Men
Today I begin with the collect for the Holy Season of Epiphany:
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP, p.162)
When I was five years old, I was a participant in my first Epiphany pageant at St. Paul’s in Waco. I was hooked! I was a donkey or some such thing, and my “role” was to stay still and say nothing. Any of you who know me will realize that was a difficult assignment: being still and being quiet. I was transfixed when the Wise Men began to come down the long aisle. The Epiphany and all that it means is of great significance to me. I love the story. I appreciate how it is told. I have “prayed” the story many times to ascertain all the meaning and importance behind it all.
Matthew 2:1-12 tells the story of the Wise Men’s journey, of their meeting with King Herod, of their encounter with the Christ-child as they knelt before Him, each presenting their gift, and their journey home “by another way.”
The visit of the Wise Men proclaims Jesus as the Savior of the whole world. It declares to us that the people of God is now extended to include all humanity, Jew and Gentile alike. God’s promise of salvation is now available to every people on the earth.
There is (at least) one thing about this story which is worth holding onto. The wisdom of the Magi was not necessarily the precondition of their visitation, but it was certainly the one gift they took with them from their visit to the stable. They listened to God, they listened to the warning of the angel not to return to Herod and they went home via a different route.
However wise the Magi were before they arrived at the manger, true wisdom is not a prerequisite to relationship with Jesus, but it is a product as we grow in knowing the Lord. Those who encounter God come away with more and better than what they bring.
Is this not always the case in every relationship? If we ever come to know wisdom in our relationships, are we not always wiser on the way home? How much more then, we will receive, as we draw near to God and He reveals Himself to us again, the One who is God and Lord of All?