Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Magi

This is one of those rare years when Epiphany (observed on January 6), actually falls on a Sunday. The focal text for this Sunday is Matthew 2: 1-12 and the focal characters of the story are the Magi.

Many of us believe that we know this story so well, we don't have to read it and reflect on it. But much of what we have come to believe about the Magi, comes to us not from the Bible but from legends. The Bible does not mention the number of Magi (although it does indicate that three gifts were given)...the Bible does not tell us the names of the Magi...and perhaps most important, the Bible does not label these visitors from the east as kings.

Magi were probably more closely related to astrologers--pagans who interpreted dreams and looked to the stars in the sky for guidance. Understanding who the Magi are, makes all the difference in understanding their importance in this story.

As Brian Stoffrengen says in his Crossmarks commentary: "The Magi should not be there. They are heretics. The don't worship the right God...they would have been much better models of unbelief and false trust, than models of faith, trust and worship." Yet, in spite of this, God gives the Magi a sign they can understand. "Magi understood stars. Magi looked for and understood signs in the sky...the sign came to them where they were. God got their attention in a way that they understood and in the place where they were at."

With this in mind, these questions that Stoffrengen poses to us are so very relevant in light of Matthew's text: "Where are the unchurhced at today?" and "What signs will speak to them?" And a further consideration: Is the church concerned with the unchurched?

Journey On...

1 comment:

CresceNet said...

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