I’m slipping ornaments and lights into Rubbermaid containers and packing the Christmas village into Styrofoam and cardboard today.
On the kitchen table, though, I place the three wise men from our nativity scene.
They aren’t glass or hand-carved from precious olive wood. I have four kids, after all.
Instead, they are three little plastic figures that my daughters have been playing with for five Christmases at least, reenacting the birth story of Jesus with unbreakable Nativity toys.
My middle daughter announced this year that we should celebrate Three Kings’ Day on January 6th. That it was important. Necessary even.
She instructed us:
- We must leave our Christmas decorations up until then.
- We must have a special dinner with a special kingly treat.
I tried to ignore the pleading at first and then made futile attempts to explain that since January 6th was the day we return to the insane schedule we call everyday life, that perhaps we could skip Three Kings’ Day.
I did what any mom might do after that. I Googled it and Pinterest searched and Facebook asked about how to make this happen.
I read about traditional dishes like “pickled cabbage leaves stuffed with grouts drizzled with water and sauerkraut juice, ” “broccoli accompanied by crostini with chicken liver pate” and “stuffed ravioli with rich duck or rabbit ragu.”
I’m not loving this holiday.
But a friend speaks truth to me. It’s not about the menu. It’s about the family time and the celebration.
So, I let my daughter plan the feast: Spaghetti with King’s Hawaiian bread and brownies.
Slowly, this Three Kings’ Day or Feast of Epiphany captivates me as we celebrate men who abandoned it all to seek truth—to seek Christ.
I read that it’s not just the celebration of “three kings,” but the rejoicing in the Epiphany, the humanity of Christ, God in flesh. It’s the reminder that He’s not a cold and impersonal deity too far out of reach to care about the passions of my day-to-day heart.
He’s God come near.
God bent low.
God of compassion, who knows what it’s like to be hungry, tired, hurt, broken, sad, joyful, loved, and hated.
And I marvel at the magnitude of this, that when God’s infant Son cried out in a hay-filled manger, right there at the beginning of the salvation story, God sent the birth announcements to the whole world.
Not just to the Bethlehem natives. Not to the religious elite or the most righteous among them. Not even just to Jewish shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night.
For God so loved the world….
The whole world.
He sent a Messiah to the Jewish nation, but then announced redemption for us all with a star that Gentile sages could see and follow to find their Savior, as well.
These men, these watchers-of-the-sky, not so much kings as bookworms, as astronomers, as students and sages, they remind me to pursue the presence of Christ.
How long had they been seeking? They knew the prophecies, knew that a Messiah would come, knew where He would be born.
They knew when they saw that star in the sky that God was at work.
How hard it must have been to explain to wives, to family, to employers, to friends, to the people in their hometown that they needed to journey far in pursuit of a newborn King.
Sometimes I’ve imagined them following a star without really knowing why, without knowing what it could mean or where it would take them. Yet, when they arrived in Jerusalem, they pestered Herod with questions:
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2).
They couldn’t understand why everyone else could continue on life as usual when they were willing to rock their entire lives in radical pursuit of the Messiah. It was so clear to them. So simple.
See the star.
Find the Savior.
Reality, though, can complicate the simple too often. Life gets busy. Radical seems too hard. Maybe the journey will cost too much. Perhaps I forget along the way whatever it was I was seeking to begin with.
Or maybe I’m too busy and distracted to seek at all.
The wise men saw that star because they were actively looking. Too often, I’m missing God’s presence because I’m not bothering to look.
But I’m reminded tonight that God comes near and wise men seek Him.
Tonight I celebrate these magi who pursued the presence of Christ with wild abandon and focused determination. And I celebrate the God who promised this:
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV).
Have you ever celebrated Three King’s Day? How do you make it special?
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!
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Copyright © 2013 Heather King