The Wise Still Seek Him
There is a story on the internet suggesting things might have gone better if the three wise men had been three wise women. After all, had women been in charge they would have 1) asked for directions, 2) gotten to the manger on time, 3) brought more practical gifts like diapers, 4) cleaned up the place, and 5) made a casserole for the Holy Family.
During this week when the world puts Christmas back in the box for another year, let us consider what it means to be a wise person.
So who were the Wise Men? John Hopkins, Jr., the songwriter, identified them in his hymn as three Oriental kings who traveled far, over field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star. Sixth century churchmen named these foreign visitors Melchior, Balthazar and Gasper. Western Christians put them at the manger as a tidy part of the Christmas pageant. But the Bible makes no mention of them being kings, never bothers to count how many, and strongly suggests that their visit occurs one to two years after the birth of Christ.
The Bible says they were Magi, good and holy men, skilled in philosophy, medicine, and natural sciences. They were searchers after truth; astrologers in a time when astrology was a respected science. They came from Persia, present day Iraq and Iran. They were Gentiles in search of a Jewish king.
O’er field and fountain, moor and mountain they followed that star. In the heat of the day, chill of the night, still they traveled on. With saddle-chaffed legs, sunburned skin, dust-caked eyes, they came seeking a Jewish Messiah. No, they didn’t know the Torah, they probably couldn’t recite the Ten Commandments, and maybe knew nothing about Jewish prophecy. They were just tired old sinners, hungry for a spiritual dinner. They were smart enough and wise enough to know that they needed to be seeking and realize that they needed direction and that they needed to be following the One who was above them. They were led to follow so they came seeking and searching. Where is he who is born king of the Jews?
In many ways, it is still the same way with wise men and wise women today. They too wish to follow the light. They are still seeking a Savior. There is a hunger in their hearts for kindness and love that will never be satisfied until they have made a connection with God. And it is the same for every human soul. Whether you have traveled from afar o’er moor and mountain and field and fountain or whether you are living in the same city and been in the same church all your life, the question is the same. Where is God, where can I find him?
At the moment, seek as we might, sometimes it is hard to find Christ in the world. Our planet is so full of negativity. Some of it is brought about by our current political reality. Some of it is a reflection of the cultural shifts that are taking place in our society. And it’s all made worse because we have allowed social media to be manipulated by those who wish to destroy others.
Many people are rejecting Christianity because they see us as being inconsistent with the message we are supposed to represent. Although there are some who long for a kinder gentler nation who care about the least and the lowly, there are others who would leave the least and the lowly behind, declaring the poor to be shiftless and lazy, the sick to be self-indulgent. And both groups have lost the ability to listen and to respond with carefully thought out answers. We talk at each other not to each other.
There seems to be no middle ground. Our language is so laced with profanity and derision. Civility has gone right out the window. It makes me wonder what has caused this to be so? Why is this currently the state of our hearts? And is it a mere coincidence that this happens at a time when Christianity itself is imploding?
My hope is that somewhere along the line we will see the foolishness in this behavior. The novelty of being crass will wear off. We will realize that we are destroying our world and each other with our sharp and bitter words
I sometimes wonder what the Wise Men would do in our situation. And I have decided they would do as they did before. They would follow the light of God, o’er field and fountain, moor and mountain, Facebook and Twitter until they found God’s Word, Jesus Christ. (See John 1:1) And it’s good to know that God’s Word is the same to us now as it was back then. The only way this is all going to get better is if we allow the light to conquer the darkness and learn to love one another. Which means we love the least and the lowliest, the refugee, the person who is differently abled, of a different gender, of a different skin, of a different political persuasion or who backs a different football team. We don’t mock, we don’t hurl the “f” bomb at them, we get to know them, we respect them.
Let’s face it, even after all the profanity and vicious rants that have been hurled, there is still a hunger in our hearts for God and a kinder gentler world. And I believe our souls will go a long way to find that need satisfied. The Wise Men came following; they came seeking and they found. Let’s hope this year, we will wisely seek and follow God’s Son by loving God and our neighbors. Can we at least try?
Have a Blessed New Year— Pastor Sharon