Magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star, and we’ve come to honor him.” (Matthew 2)
It’s Friday, December 23, and here we are on the day before the night before Christmas. I don’t know about you, but I’m right there with the wise men – the Magi – still on the way there, still on the journey, still making my way toward Bethlehem.
Personally I find that even now, after so many years of Advent and writing a successful book about the process, I still have to be deliberate about keeping my heading. Or if I’m not careful – if we’re not careful – the real heart of the meaning of Christmas, the tender scene that played out in the manger, gets bypassed. Then it’s full steam ahead into gift exchanges, the extravagance, the feasting, and “look what Santa brought!”
That’s why Christmas Eve worship is an absolute must if we want to have any chance at all of a Christmas Day that really counts. Christmas Eve in worship, and then some kind of deliberate devotional pause Christmas morning before diving in to the gifts.
This year of course Christmas is on a Sunday, so there’s the added benefit of attending church, of gathering with our brothers and sisters to put everything into its proper perspective.
I have always appreciated the idea of the smartest people in the world, magi, engaging in a long journey to put some closure on the deep, gut-level knowing, that even wisdom is not enough to answer their deep yearning for meaning.
So they find what they’re looking for in a very ordinary scene, where a young girl and her love usher new life into a fearful, broken, dangerous world, and in so doing create the space for hope, wonder, meaning, and promise to take root and grow.
Along the way maybe they ran into a shepherd or two, overwhelmed with this advent of light. Or maybe the light that summoned them to that place was the residue of glory from the angels wings. Or maybe the wonder was simply that written into the faces of Mary and Joseph as they held the promise of the ages in their arms.
Whatever happened on that night, so long ago, there remains this open invitation to enter into this story ourselves, to be humble in our wisdom, to shine with the same light that changed the world forever, to sing the angels’ song, and to arrive at Christmas more than ready to receive the newborn King.