Jan 6 is the day Christians celebrate Epiphany based on the first twelve verses of the second chapter of Matthew which tells the story of the Magi following the star to Bethlehem.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
I read the other day a wonderful blog post written by Christine Valters Paintner that gave me new insights into the lessons of these verses. I love how she uncovers wisdom in these words and applies them to our own journeys.
I encourage you to visit and read her thoughts here.
What struck me the most was her second observation:
“Embark on the journey, however long or difficult
Herod gathers all his chief priests and scribes to find out more about this holy birth. Instead of searching out for himself, he sends the magi on his behalf. While Herod seeks outside advice and send others, the magi make the journey for themselves. Where are you tempted to trust others to make the journey for you, perhaps in reading books about the spiritual journey but never practicing yourself? How might you own your journey more deeply in the coming year?”
I love reading books. I savor going on retreats and listening to wise speakers. I create lists of things I want to do and where I feel God is leading me. But often I fail to fully absorb the wisdom and guidance into my own life. I peek a little behind the curtain of the Mysterious, but don’t dive fully into God’s welcoming waters. I don’t want to be a Herod. Time to follow that star on my own.
I took the time today to read the passage from Matthew, not once, but six times in different versions. I paid attention to the words I previously skimmed over, assuming I knew this passage. I allowed the words and images to soak into my soul. For once I wasn’t Herod, peering in quickly and from afar but took the time and with an open heart, fully tasted the scripture.
I am reminded to look up, glance to the sky above. The Magi knew the night sky from years of observing, waiting, learning. They were ready to follow as soon as they saw the Star of the new King. They persisted in their search, seeking Him. And they worshiped with joy when they found him.
Good guidelines for our spiritual journeys too. Keep looking up and follow his star!
What do the Magi teach you?