Monday, December 21, 2009

Star of Wonder, Star of Might

Star with Royal Beauty Bright...
I sent out my Christmas Cards today and quoted "We Three Kings." The beautiful parallel metaphor - The Star in the East marking the birthplace of the Light of the World - it always gets me. There's so much to learn from the stories of old. In fact, they were never just stories in the first place.

Three Kings, or Wise Men, or Magi, spotted a brilliant star hanging in the Eastern skies. A scientifically catalogued supernova did indeed light up the night sky around 2,000 years ago, give or take a few. So it's entirely plausible that Kings or Wise Men, ancient composite astronomers/astrologers wondered what exactly such a heavenly beacon heralded, and set off to find its true meaning.
In the story, they were named Balthazar, Melchior, and Caspar, magical names that resonate with Orientalism, so mystical to Western minds. The gifts they brought recognized the true nature of the Christ Child: Gold, to crown him King. Frankincense, to worship him as God. And Myrrh, a strong-smelling gum used in ointments and incense, particularly during burials, which recognized the humanity of the Child, and foreshadowed His death, that would raise us all to new Life.
And what can we learn from this aspect of the Christmas Story? From this segment of the scene at the creche? No matter your belief, or your religion, consider the Wise Men- Men of power and respect, men of great renown and great means, who recognized when a power greater than theirs was incarnate. With a strength of humility and conviction, they bowed before the lowly, the meek, and the mild.
In a world where we are blessed with so many things, might we also have the humility to recognize the Light of the World, especially when it shines in the eyes of the lowliest among us, and may we have the conviction to bow our heads and offer what we have to give.
photos: Star of Bethlehem (found via Google), Three Kings by James C. Christenson, "Adoration of the Magi" by Gentile da Fabriano, and the cover of "We Three Kings" by Gennady Spirin.

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