For the shepherds in the field that night, the call to go and see was immediate. The adrenaline and emotion of the angelic visit propelled them off the hill and down into Bethlehem, to a family huddled together in a stable around a newborn. For the shepherds, just a few miles run from the Messiah, seeing was believing.
For the Magi from the East, though, this trip to see Jesus was no last-minute, drop-everything-and-run kind of pilgrimage. These mystical astrologers with roots in the ancient civilizations had been looking for the King of the Jews for centuries. As scholars of ancient texts, they knew the Hebrew prophecies. When the star appeared, the star like no other, they knew exactly what had happened: the king was born.
For the Magi, seeing with knowledge meant an unusual star became a royal signpost, marking the way for these Eastern philosophers to embark on a journey of a lifetime.
Before the Magi ever knew about the star, though, the Star Maker knew them. The light that shone so brightly that the wise men thousands of miles away could see it but King Herod, just a few miles away in Jerusalem could not, was not just a freak of nature or a cosmic coincidence. God himself knew the Wise Men, knew that they were seekers of truth, and provided a star so that they could come and be part of the eternal story.
Seeing with knowledge meant worshiping in spirit and truth when they arrived months later to the house where the little King was becoming strong, as he was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him.
During this Advent season, it takes knowledge for us to see beyond the lights twinkling on the houses and the shiny paper wrapped around boxes beneath the tree. Everywhere around us the emotion of the season calls us to respond quickly, to buy now, only 10 days left.
But there’s more to Christmas than meets the eye. It takes knowledge to really see. Reflecting on THE ancient text helps us interpret the world around us during this season. We see an evergreen and think of God’s faithfulness; we see a man dressed in red and consider God’s generosity; we light candles and remember the flame of the Spirit burning in our souls.
And we see the star atop the tree, leading us again and again to the Light of the World, the true light that give light to all men.
This piece was written for and read as part of the third Sunday of Advent at my church last weekend.
A few more Advent posts:
And from the High Calling Advent Writing Project . . .
Photo by dalbera, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.