Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as a Human Resources Specialist.
My family had many Christmas traditions. Every year, we would put up decorations at our house on the day after Thanksgiving. We would put together our tree (sorry to disappoint the real-tree elitists), and decorate the whole thing with plastic candy garland; colorful lights; and a variety of delightful, mismatched ornaments collected over the years. Finally, we’d spread out the tree skirt and put the nativity set on it. It was a small set, made of plastic. I was always the one to put out Joseph, Mary, Jesus, sheep, shepherds, and the two wise men. Yep, two. My guess is that it was probably cheaper than the set that came with three. And who needs myrrh anyway?!
No matter the number (most likely much more than 3), I’ve always had an interest in these mysterious wise men. They’re exotic, coming from the east, practicing magic and studying the stars. Their unorthodox and intriguing ways just make them seem so, so… out of place in the nativity story. It’s probably because they were.
Up until this time, the focus of God’s story had almost exclusively centered on the Jews, so it is quite peculiar that when the King of the Jews is born, some of the first people to worship Him are, in fact, Gentiles. Unlike the Jews, these men weren’t even waiting for a Messiah. They didn’t know that they needed rescuing. In Church of the Resurrection terms, they fell into the non-religious, not nominally religious camp.
But then along came a star in the sky that God displayed as a sign of His Son to the Magi, using their interests and occupations as astrologists to draw them closer. He calls these strange and most unlikely foreigners, and by doing so, God invites us to see into His heart. His love goes beyond the limits we put on His grace when we prejudge who would and wouldn’t make a “good Christian.” We have these subconscious notions of what we expect church-goers to look like. So we don’t invite our neighbors, friends, or coworkers to church, because “they probably wouldn’t be into it.” But there aren’t any people as least likely to be into Christ as the Magi, yet God still called them, luring them with a star that would lead them straight to His Son. And it wasn’t just that He called them, but they actually went eagerly, spending month after month on this most implausible, and frankly bizarre, venture.
When we think of the Magi, we must remember that grace and love are attractive to all people, even to those that least fit into our notions of a Christian. So this new year, let’s share our faith, invite a friend to church, give someone else the hope that we’ve found. Let’s be the star, that light in the darkness that will lead others to find their Savior, their King.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.