The surprising wonder of Christ's birth continued to reverberate through the coming days. It echoed in the Temple as two elderly saints embraced his presence, rejoicing in prophecy's fulfilment. It then spilled forth into the nations as star-gazers from the east, having sought long and hard, paid homage to the newborn King.
Reflect on the story ...
Read Luke 2:21-40 and Matthew 2:1-12
Excerpt from "The Christmas Chronicles" - The Magi's Servant's story
Magi from the east, students of the stars, excitedly spied a unique conjunction of planets in the night sky, a sighting which spoke to them of a newborn king in Israel, one who would inaugurate a last days' reign. Without hesitation, they packed their bags and began an arduous journey to greet this sovereign ruler.
Having arrived in Jerusalem, they were directed to Bethlehem. We pick up the story there ...
Arriving in Bethlehem we found ourselves puzzled. Whatever splendour Jerusalem may have held certainly was not represented here. Where could such a royal child have taken up residence? We made inquiry. This time, no blank faces greeted us. Rather faces of wonder, spilling forth news of a child born earlier in the year, heralded by angels, greeted by shepherds. We were directed to a house—small, rough, worn—where a young family resided. We were ushered in, needing to take it by turns, the single room cramped and spare, almost tentative in its appearance.
My Master was among the first. I followed, attending. What greeted my eyes was nothing of apparent royalty, nothing of power or rank, nothing to impress except in sheer simplicity and peace. The mother’s face, surprised yet serene, soaked it all in. Her husband, alert with gentle strength, attended her every move. And the child—beautiful, small, vulnerable—lay contentedly on her lap. So ordinary. Is this what we came to see?
But my Master, ahead of me, sank to his knees. One by one each of the Magi present squeezed to the floor, their lavish garments crumpling round them, stretching a rich carpet before the child, the king. I was simply pressed back against the dirt wall. And as I watched, gifts were brought forth—gifts for a king—gold, token of the world’s wealth; frankincense, accoutrement of worship; and myrrh, exquisite, fragrant ointment for embalming the dead. Light glinted from the gold. The close air filled with a sweet, aromatic offertory. The child stirred, then slept again, comfortable in his place, commanding all attention, unaffected by the press of the world.
And what will this child be? And what path will he walk? How will he take such poverty and turn it to power? What will these last days bring? And how will he rule them? What difference will this birth make?
We never did go back to Herod. These Magi, interpreters of dreams, were wakened in the night with divine messages, warning them to avoid Herod and return home by another route. And so we did, the dream itself accentuating the message of the stars.
And enroute home my Master recited often a poem he gleaned in Jerusalem from the Jewish scriptures, ancient prophecy waiting long years for fulfillment. He spoke it and sang it and turned it over and over again in his mind. And each time I heard it, I knew that we ourselves were caught up in it, for the ancient word, spoken to Israel, embraces all.
"Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn."
Photo by Inbal Malca on Unsplash