The Three Wisemen. Who were they? Were they kings? Were they mystics, followers of Zoroaster, astrologers, magicians? How was it that they were able to follow a star to the baby Jesus? If they were from the East how far east and how long did it take them to reach Jesus? Did the star appear when he was born or afterwards?
We know they were foreigners and that they were welcomed in King Herod’s court. We know that they bore expensive gifts: gold, myrrh and frankinsense. Were they Persians as the early church documented 500 years after the event? Were they from the far east? China perhaps? We cannot even be sure about the number of gift-bearers they were, only the gifts.
They were foreigners. They had rank. Travelling within their own caravan, they would have been a spectacle to watch as they approached Jerusalem and then Bethlehem.
They were led by a comet through the desert. Having been entertained in state by Herod, they took counsel from a dream and broke a promise to return to him. In doing so they saved the baby Jesus life. They were spiritualists.
I am fascinated by accounts of early Christianity. The first Christians seem to have been a more spiritual people. They put their faith in God and the baby Jesus but also relied on astrology, dreams and visions. Much as today, many of us count ourselves as Christians but will read a horoscope if it passes our line of vision, will ponder over our dreams and take counsel from exotic spiritualists. Perhaps we haven’t changed so much.
The nativity story and accounts of Jesus as a baby are beautiful. Being human is stripped back to human needs. We need shelter and rest and refreshment as the stable animals do. We are beasts of burden like they are, but we have more needs. We need love and respect and we blossom under the admiring gaze of others. The baby Jesus was given these gifts by the efforts that the Wise Men and the Shepherds made in visiting him.
We also have spiritual needs. For some the strict letter of Christianity addresses this need. For others, spiritualism comes from other corners. The Three Wise Men are often depicted as coming from various corners. They are turbaned with philosophy and spiritualism. They are motivated by love. The nativity story embraces their difference and encapsulates acceptance and participation.
Whatever your spiritualism, have a merry and safe Christmas.
P.S., Instructions on how to make three wise turbans are posted on Crafty Theatre facebook page.
- The Magi Visit the Messiah (amylwestdavidson.wordpress.com)