ALVEY: Let the star of Christ lead you
Published 7:33 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2018
By Jack Alvey | Alvey is the rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
While Christmas Pageants and Nativity scenes often suggest otherwise, the wise men or the magi did not visit Jesus until he was at least a toddler.
Even more, scripture does not specify the number of wise men, only the number of gifts they laid at the feet of the Christ child. Later traditions name these travelers from the East – Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia and Gaspar of India.
Nonetheless, these misconceptions are of little consequence as we look at the bigger picture. The two most important factors in this story are that these wise men are not of Hebrew origin and that they followed a star to find Jesus.
The arrival of these foreign magi reminds us that salvation does not belong to the Jews alone. Rather, God’s salvation of the world is given through the Jews for the whole world to enjoy. Salvation is a gift to all, not an entitlement to some. In Jesus, we see what God was trying to do all along.
First, God blessed Abraham and his descendants so that they might be a blessing to the world. Then, through Isaiah, God reminded Israel that they are called to be a light to the nations. Jesus is how God finally fulfills Israel’s vocation and makes his light known in all the world. Additionally, Jesus breaks down the dividing wall between the Jews and Gentiles and invites all people and nations to make known the salvation story through him.
Secondly, and perhaps more controversially, the wise men find Jesus by using pagan religion – specifically astrology.
This scripture speaks volumes to the sovereignty of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Ours is a God who can and will use any religion or nation to point the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. While I believe holy scripture provides us all things necessary to understand God’s work of salvation, I also believe in a God big enough to use other sources to point to the same truths of scripture.
In this case, God used astrology to invite the magi to seek the Messiah of whom scripture speaks. God wants the whole world to see how he is making all things new through Christ and will stop at nothing to convey this truth.
As I travel again with the wise men this Epiphany season, I am reminded to look for those outside the church who are seeking a Savior.
I am reminded to look for the outsiders who are calling the Church to notice the Savior in our midst when we get bogged down with issues inconsequential to the overall message of God in Christ.
I pray God open your eyes to see how God is using outsiders to point to the good news of Christ as we know in scripture. What might you discover if you listen to their story? What might they discover if you invite them learn God’s story of salvation as revealed through the scriptures? Where might the star of Christ lead you?