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.
Matthew 2: 9 – 12
It’s so easy to hear these very familiar stories and let them just wash over you! Much as I love the memories of nativity plays, with our kids portraying kings in their curtain-cloaks and ill-fitting crowns, our now annual viewing of the BBC drama “The Nativity” (a 2010 series written by Eastenders’ scriptwriter Tony Jordan) has prompted me to think about this short Gospel passage in a whole new way. I’m absolutely not claiming factual correctness for Tony Jordan’s interpretation – far from it – but it’s an interesting catalyst for reflection on the personal stories of the characters in the Nativity.
The Magi were revered and learned men; astrologers who had, for generations, been awaiting the alignment of stars that would herald the birth of the Messiah. Their absolute certainty of the significance of this particular star sent them on a long and treacherous journey. In the Nativity series, as we come to know their fictitious characters, we get a profound glimpse of their hope and longing for what will await them at the end of their journey and of the danger that Herod might pose. Every year, without fail, the scene where these exhausted men finally arrive and kneel to worship the infant Jesus, leaves me an emotional wreck, moved by their outpouring of love and pure joy.
Like the Magi, as Christians we are all participating in a long journey (obviously only a metaphorical one at the moment!) Our journey of faith will inevitably take us through various landscapes, some of which will be easier to navigate than others. We all have times where we can walk this road with quick and easy steps and others where we struggle our way through the wilderness. Until they saw Him with their own eyes, the Magi journeyed only in anticipation but we walk with the certainty that this same Jesus walks alongside us, every step of the way.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank you that you journey with us each day. Help us to hold on to the promise that you are with us, in the good times and in the times when we are footsore and weary. As the travellers in our story responded to your presence with joy and with love, so may we rejoice and be thankful for your presence in our lives.
Action: As you go through the day, try to find a few occasions to stop what you are doing, to be quiet and simply acknowledge Jesus’ presence with you.