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Following the signs, finding our way

The first Sunday of the new year marks the Celebration of the Epiphany. The Christian Church celebrates the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
There has been much discussion concerning what each of the gifts symbolize. Some say gold represents kingship on earth. Frankincense, which is incense, could represent priesthood, and myrrh, embalming oil, could symbolize the future suffering Christ was going to endure. There are many different explanations as to what the gifts symbolize and the value they might have had to the child, being raised by parents of humble means.
This is a story most Christians know by heart and remember fondly. One of our favorite Carols is entitled “We Three Kings,” which celebrate the arrival of Wise Men, to honor the new born King of the Jews.
The beloved hymn tells us there were three Wise Men. Most Christians believe this to be true. In reality, the scripture in Matthew 2:2-12, doesn’t say how many Magi made the trek to Bethlehem or where they were from. We don’t know, but we assume we do, and we act like we do, although we don’t.
That’s one of the aspects which intrigue me about this story. We really don’t know much about many of the characters. Many Biblical trivia contests, ask questions about the visit of the Magi. Many wrong answers are given based on tradition and legend, not on scripture.
Many Christians think the Wise Men are from the Orient, others claim Persia. Were they astrologers, priests or royalty? We don’t know. Did they visit the night of the birth, days after, or even later? We don’t know. Matthew is the only gospel that tells of this visit. The information contained in these 12 verses is all we know about the Magi, yet we act like we know much more.
In our lives, we make many assumptions about one another. We deal with all types of people. Some we like, some we don’t, others we are neutral about. Far too often, we make assumptions about each other. We make assumptions about what other people like, don’t like, their political leanings, or spiritual beliefs.
The truth is we don’t know as much about our acquaintances as we think we do. Why? Because we don’t take the time to know one another, listen to each other, ascertain the needs of others. Many times, we’re too busy making assumptions, which often are proven wrong.
From scripture, we know the Magi were following the light from a star. The sign led them to Jesus, the one we know as Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor. The one who knows us better than any other. He is the one who lights our path, leads us out of darkness. Christ is the one who loves us, in spite of all our faults. The assumptions we make. He is the light of hope, leading to salvation.
The Wise Men saw the light, decided to follow, and discovered what they were looking for. Maybe we should do the same. I wonder, did the Wise Men find the light, or did the light find the Magi? I think God always knows where we are, he never loses us. It’s we who have to do the exploring.

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