Lessons from the three wise men when it comes to guidance for the year ahead
Wonder where you’re going this year? Looking for some good guidance? Wishing you had some benchmarks to find your way? I don’t think you have to look farther than the wise men.
Not for nothing do we celebrate the wise men at the beginning of the year. January 6 is their day, the Feast of the Epiphany, a big fancy word that means discovery. A realization, a new understanding, the perception of something that changes everything.
Like it did for the wise men.
We all know the story. Wise men from the East–or magi as they’re called–saw a star in the heavens that told them the newborn king of the Jews was born. They followed that star, bringing treasure chests of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
They only got as far as Jerusalem and figured they would ask the current leader, King Herod. Obviously they were powerful enough and rich enough to go straight to the top, commanding an audience. Imagine what would have happened to the poor shepherds if they had tried the same.
King Herod was a monstrous, murderous leader, and he listened to these wise men only for his only subversive purposes. As soon as he found out where this newborn king would be found, he would kill it. Get rid of all competition.
He called for his chief priests and the legal experts to give the foreigners some advice–apparently, these wise men, coming from some other faith tradition, did not know Scripture very well or at all.
The experts consulted their texts and determined that this new king would be born in Bethlehem.
Sneaky, treacherous King Herod, putting on a charm act, sent them on to seek out the baby and then come back and give him a full report. He was the sort of leader to make others do his dirty work.
Indeed they found the baby Jesus with his mother Mary, fell to their knees, opened their treasure chests and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to this true king. In a dream they were informed of Herod’s malicious ways and instead of returning to Jerusalem, they went home a different way.
Two lessons for all of us in search of our own epiphanies:
1) Follow your star.
Look to the heavens, gaze into the deep, be willing at any moment to go on the journey of discovery that God sets before all of us. I do believe we all have stars we’re meant to follow, leading to the Child who is King.
2) Consult the Scriptures.
But remember, the magi wouldn’t have made it if they followed the star alone. It could only take them so far. They needed more than what the heavens told them. They had to consult Biblical texts, guided by the chief priests and legal experts (even under Herod’s heavy thumb, the latter delivered the truth).
So read and follow. May you come upon your own blessed epiphany.