I’m slipping ornaments and lights into Rubbermaid containers and packing the Christmas village into Styrofoam and cardboard this week.
On the kitchen table, though, I place the three wise men from our nativity scene.
Tonight, the wise men take center stage.
My middle daughter announced a few years ago that we should celebrate Three Kings’ Day on January 6th.
This was important. Necessary even.
She instructed us:
- We must leave our Christmas decorations up until then.
- We must have a special dinner with a kingly treat.
I tried to ignore the pleading at first and then made futile attempts to explain that since by January 6th we are already immersed in the insane schedule we call everyday life, perhaps we could skip Three Kings’ Day.
So, knowing how this girl-of-mine treasures traditions and because I love her, I Googled it and Pinterest-searched and asked on Facebook 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 and she chooses what is simple and fun and a family favorite.
I see the simplicity of this. It’s a family dinner with a special dessert and three wise men finally arriving in Bethlehem to worship the new King. Nothing difficult or fancy.
It’s not about effort; its about celebrating those who abandoned everything to seek truth–to seek Christ.
I read in my Internet research 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 is 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 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).
Everyone else continued on with life as usual, but 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 so often complicates the simple. 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.
But I’m reminded today that God comes near and the wise 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).
Originally posted January 6, 2014