Saturday, December 03, 2011

Stories for Christmas: The Magi

I will never forget the star that sent us on that incredible journey. I am a court astronomer to the king of Persia and it is an important position with a long and illustrious history. We are not just astronomers, but also translators of dreams and advisers to the king on all important matters. One of our illustrious predecessors was Baltasar, also known as Daniel to his own people.

One evening, when I was very young and new at court, I and my colleagues were on on the roof of the palace observing the movements of the heavens. Then we saw something we had never seen before. It was amazing. A star, telling us by its timing and position that a king had been born in the land of Judea. We observed this star for several days and determined that a small company of us must set out to find this king and take him gifts to celebrate his arrival. We knew he was a very important king. The stars are rarely so specific, so when they are we pay attention.

I and my companions gathered the necessary provisions for our trip and we set out. All along the way we observed the star every evening. And every evening we received confirmation from the stars. Again and again I was reminded of our predecessor, Baltasar. He was a Judean who had been brought to the court of Nebuchadnezzar and eventually became one of the most powerful court advisers of all time. He was sent through many perils but always kept his faith in his God, Yahweh. In a chronicle it is recorded that he interpreted a dream for the king. It was a dream of prophesy that spoke of the future kingdoms of Persia. The last part of the prophesy says that God  will set up a kingdom that won't ever be destroyed or conquered even though all other kingdoms will disappear.

We believed that this new king was going to be the foundation of that kingdom and the stars continually confirmed our belief.

It took us several weeks to reach Judea and when we arrived we went to the capital city, Jerusalem. There we began asking where we would find the king of the Jews. Eventually we were summoned before Herod who asked the teachers of the religion of their one God where we might find this king. After consulting their sacred texts we were told that he would be found in Bethlehem. Herod asked us to return after we had found the king so that he could also pay homage to the king. Little did we know, that was not his true intention.

We went on our way to Bethlehem, still guided by the star to the very house where he lived with his mother and her husband.

Oh, he was a sweet child. And his mother was very wise for a young woman of her age. I wish my own daughter could have had even a portion of her wisdom.

After worshiping the child, the king of the Jews, we presented our gifts. I’m afraid the parents where rather overwhelmed. It was probably more wealth than they had ever seen before. But we could give nothing less than the best to this mighty king who was still a child. It is shown in the stars that his kingdom will last for eternity and will stretch over the whole earth. It will encompass every tribe, people and nation.

That night, as we slept, it was revealed to us in our dreams that Herod wished to kill the child. So when we awoke, we resolved to go home without returning to Jerusalem.

I am a very old man now, but I will never forget that child. A few years ago, I heard about him again. He had become a teacher. They must not have liked what he taught because the Romans executed him. A peculiarly morbid form of execution where the offender is nailed to a cross and left to die a slow, agonizing death. It seemed strange to me, after what the stars had told me, that it should happen to him.

But just a few days ago I was in the marketplace and there were several young men talking about him. When I took them aside to ask them for more information they told me he had risen from the dead three days after his execution.

Then he ascended into heaven and his kingdom goes on in our hearts. It is a divine kingdom rather than an earthly one.

Suddenly it all became clear to me and now his kingdom reigns in my heart as well.

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