Opening Prayer. God, may you open me to you this Advent, to see and discover you in signs, in dreams, and in your creation. Open my heart to your wisdom. Amen.
Scripture. Matthew 2:1-2.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
A Wrestling Wise Man. from Rev. Marie Wonders
(Note from Marie: I will use “wise men” and “kings” interchangeably. Don’t be annoyed. You were warned!)
There are four people in my family (at home). When we did our advent companion drawing, three of us picked wise men and one of us picked a shepherd. I’m interested to see what God might say to us three kings (and a shepherd) as we “traverse afar” this advent. For me, when I discovered we all had mostly the same type of companion, I immediately began trying to determine what made my king different. After all, I didn’t want to go down someone else’s advent journey, I wanted my own special path! (Note: it might be healthy for me to go on someone else’s journey for once.)
To that end, I secretly felt glad that my king was depicted wearing a colorful, jazzy rainbow coat and a fancier crown than the other two. I also set to examining the pictures of the gifts the wise men were holding and started asking Paul and Rhoda (the other two kings), “Do you think my wise man is holding the myrrh or the gold?” After all, if I could figure out which gift my companion brought, I would be able to focus on all the unique aspects of one bringing myrrh as opposed to gold. Predictably, we got bogged down on whether gold would go in a gold receptacle urn thing or a box. Are you more likely to put something gold inside something that is also gold? A question for the ages. Also, there were two kings depicted with boxes, so that was confusing. All this to say, I don’t know if my companion wise man is carrying gold, frankincense or myrrh.
The truth is, when you turn to the Bible, the kings aren’t distinguishable as characters individually. The are not given names. They are not even called kings. They are wise men from the East, Gentile star-watchers. We don’t even know how many of them there were, just that there were plural wise men. Of the two gospels with narratives about Jesus being born, Matthew and Luke, the wise men are only mentioned in Matthew. Luke focuses on shepherds, angels and prophets. Matthew has Gentile wise men astronomers, Herod the puppet king and traumatic violence. I like Luke’s version better. It’s much nicer.
So, being held to joining in the collective wise man grouping with their more alarming Matthew narrative, I’ll give in. Instead of looking out for my own special journey, I’ll ask this question instead, “God, what do you have to teach me about stilling the part of me that seeks to know, ‘What gift do I offer?’” I wonder if journeying into the dark with this question might open me more fully to the mysteries you offered the wise men? May I see them God, like the wise men saw. In signs, in dreams and in your creation.
Questions for Consideration.
Closing Prayer. Dear God, as we discover the world, may we discover our true selves and your unfailing love. Amen.
– Lois Rock