“Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matt 12 v2).
A star, a new star was in the sky. It was moving. A star to be followed.
A star was seen in the sky, many miles from Bethlehem; but for those following it, those who felt compelled to follow it, that was where it would lead them; and to a newly born child seeking the warmth of the hay in an animal feeding trough, and the reassuring touch of a young, new mother.
Those who followed the star… Wise men, Astrologers, Magi… were Gentiles and yet they would find themselves welcomed by a devoutly Jewish couple, so that they might offer their gifts and their worship to the child lying in the manger.
The child they knelt before was no other than ‘God in the manger.’… but, as Archbishop Stephen Cottrell describes it, “ This was not just one God, but God come down to earth. One God sharing the life of men… the heavens themselves come down to earth.”
These strangers had brought gifts… Gold for a King; Incense for a Priest (for a King is also a Priest); Myrrh for the King and Priest framed as every man is by birth and death.
But above all, they brought the gift of themselves; of their willingness to believe and to trust.
To believe that their following of the star (signifying a birth), was the right thing to do no matter how long, cold and difficult the journey would be.
To trust that they would be welcomed at the birthplace, in a foreign land.
We may wonder how these strangers felt about all this as they looked back.
Archbishop Cottrell puts it this way, “We were part of a drama so much bigger than ourselves; something we would probably never understand properly.
We simply had to carry on faithfully playing our part.” (Walking Backwards to Christmas).
And isn’t that true for each one of us as we respond to ‘Emmanuel, God with us’?