This week Stewardship is publishing ‘Advent wonder’ an eight part series looking at Advent through the prism of eight personages of the Nativity story.
Directly below is one of my drafts on this piece. Beneath it is the link to the series and the final posted bit. Please read, and if desire, comment on the process from the draft (drafts2) to the finished project. Wonder at Advent; Him; and His gift, our gospel message.
the Magi – Advent’s purpose: wonder
Why are we beginning our Advent wonder with the Magi? We begin with the Magi because they are our guides, our feet and our eyes as we journey. They saw the end at the beginning. They saw first; they see for us. Who were the Magi? The Magi were priests: skilled interpreters and seers of dreams and stars. They looked to the skies to see heaven, to glimpse an unknown, yet true God. Like the Levites in Israel, the Magi functioned as priests in Persia. Each, in all probability, came from a family of scientists and priests. For centuries their families had studied philosophy and medicine; science and the stars. Vital knowledge was passed down for safe keeping to and through them. For the Magi to leave their homes, their nations and their cultures and world, they had to have a driving sense of purpose and commitment. What their families had long awaited appeared in the skies: a star. And not just a star, but ‘his’ star. The star had appeared. History was being completed. No more studies. Now was the time to journey, to follow. The Magi’s eyes opened wide and wider and they were compelled by what they saw to start their journey to find the new-born king of the Jews before anyone else. They weren’t observant Jews eagerly awaiting the Messiah. But the Magi saw what others who were looking did not see. They opened their hearts and followed with full and generous time and gifts. They were in wonder. And their purpose? Their end -point? Worship.
Seeing the unfamiliar light in the sky, they knew it had a historic significance and believed this star pointed to the birth and appearance of a great king of the Jewish people. Heaven was pointing their eyes to earth and they followed the star, its light, fire or flame. What do we know about them and their journey? Tradition points to three Magi because of their three gifts, but we do not know how many Magi there actually were. Neither do we know exactly how old the child Jesus was when they visited; only that he was under two years old. And where? Probably not a manger, but Mary and Joseph’s home. But what we do know, what we can be certain of, is their purpose, what their ‘destination’ was. When the Magi came to Herod’s court in Jerusalem, they asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2: 2)
We share with them the same purpose as we begin this season of Advent. They prepared precious gifts: gold and incense and myrrh, and plotted the star to follow. Our destination today is the same: it is to worship. Jesus is our ‘bright morning star’ (Rev. 22:16).
Reflect: What is your journey? Where have you been; where are you today; where do you desire to go?
“We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” Matthew 2:2
We start our Advent journey with the Magi because they are our guides.
They saw the end at the beginning. For centuries before Jesus’ birth, the Magi studied the skies – looking for a sign that he was coming.
They studied the prophecies; they passed down ancient wisdom from one generation to the next; they watched and waited. Long before the manger in Bethlehem, these scholars searched for a single star that would lead them to the one who had been born King of the Jews. A voyage was inevitable. But it wasn’t going to be an effortless journey.
What might it mean for you to give up your home and your livelihood, and pursue God for months – maybe even years – across whole nations?
With drive, purpose and conviction the Magi left their world behind and journeyed generously. They gave their time and they prepared thoughtful and precious gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
We don’t know how long the journey took. But what we do know– what we can be certain of – is that the Magi journeyed with purpose.
By carefully studying a rich history of knowledge, they were able to plot their future journey with purpose and passion. And what was their end-point?
We share with them the same purpose as we begin the season of Advent.