Message from a Magus
A message inspired by Matthew 2: 1-12
[for an audio recording of this message, click here. Photo by Klemen Vrankar on Unsplash]
You have heard my story often enough:
How I saw a new light in the sky and believed it foretold a king’s birth;
How I travelled from afar to find this child king of a foreign nation;
How I asked questions at a palace, but then moved on and laid my precious gifts at the feet of a peasant girl and her baby son.
You have heard my story read in Sunday School, and seen it acted out in Christmas pageants, and perhaps you have even told it to others as you set up your nativity scene.
You know my story, but have you ever wondered why?
Why would I and my fellow Magi leave our homelands, where we had wealth and honor…
risk a long and treacherous journey, not to mention the anger of a violent and volatile king…
find the one we were seeking, give him gifts and honor…
and then just leave?
Have you ever wondered what we got from all this effort?
Perhaps I can best explain by reminding you where our journey started.
Not that it matters what lands we came from. That matters to us, of course, but not to you. The same kind of journey could initiate from any location on earth.
Because from anywhere on earth, you can look at the sky.
If you have not done so in a while, I encourage you to go outside tonight to look at the stars.
Not like magi looking for portents of global importance, that takes a lifetime of study.
But there is one lesson in the stars that anyone can see: the vastness of the universe, and how far the light can travel through it.
It’s a lesson of both humility and hope.
It’s humbling to see our own smallness so clearly.
From the perspective of the night sky, the differences between kings and peasants seem pretty insignificant. None of us can reach the stars, or direct them how to shine.
But they do shine, and that is the lesson of hope. The hope that calls us beyond our current limits, beyond the world that we can easily know. To stretch ourselves to learn, to always look farther than the limits of what we can see when we are standing still.
That is why we journeyed, that’s why we risked our wealth, and status, and even our lives to go to find a baby whose birth was declared by the stars.
Because such a baby meant that we still had so much to learn.
You know, the Bible remembers us as magi.
It means “wise ones.” We are identified by our wisdom.
But our wisdom was not a matter of knowledge. We were not magi because of our learning, or our ability to read the stars.
Our wisdom was in our willingness to journey, to recognize all that we do not know and to follow the light.
And what we found through that journey was a king, and a wisdom, unlike any other. We learned that it is in not only the light of the stars that travels unimaginable distances to earth. God has come to earth as well, to join us on our journey.
Thanks be to God.