Sunday, January 3, 2010

Of Kings and Commoners

I grew up singing "We Three Kings of Orient Are" but now the word Orient is passe' and Oriental is not politically correct. I thought for the longest time these kings were three and were named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. I have tried over the years to uphold their honor as real scientists (astronomers) but now am more and more convinced they were astrologers. I have always thought they were Persian but was surprised to find Chrysostom thought them from Yemen. So little we know about these, uh, Kings, uh, astrologers, uh, Magi.

Their appearance was probably not a kingly occasion except for the fact that the Child they came to see was born King of Kings. Perhaps it is best if we strip away the kingly aura of these Eastern visitors and let the only King in this story be Jesus. Perhaps the best thing is not to try to identify these mysterious travelers who followed the star to find Him who is the Light of the world. We need to see in these folks not who they were but who we are. Since most of us are Gentiles (a nicer word and sense than goyim), their visit to the Child Jesus was for us the first welcome of the strangers and aliens into a very Jewish home and family.

Which is the tragedy of Epiphany. While it is the Gentile Christmas, we are mostly Christmas-ed out by the time January 6 (or in our case, January 3, Observed) comes. We are tired of the carols and cookies, of the bulging bills and belt lines, and of the ornaments. Why, as I drove to Church on Christmas morning I saw the first trees had already been dropped off at the recycle station at Dunbar Cave. It's over for most of us... we are ready to move on...

But move on we cannot until we realize the significance of these strangers who had no place being where they ended up -- except God's invitation and guiding. The light that brought them to the Light is the same light that brings us to Him who is the Light of the world, and our own Light by baptism and faith.

It is God's will and purpose that His Church stand as a beacon of light, shining with the brightness of the one true Light which is Christ, so that from the shadows, from the darkness, from far away places and local neighborhoods, those who had no place might still be drawn into the place that God has prepared for them... at the feet of Jesus... first a baby in a manger, and then as the Lamb of God in the Jordan... and then as the Son of God in message and miracle... and then as the Savior in solitary suffering... and then as Lord of death touching the coldness of the grave... and then as Victor and King of life whom death could not kill...

Epiphany tells us that we belong here... with Jesus. Kings and commoners, special and ordinary, alien and citizen... there is still room for ME!

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