“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
Sunday starts the season of Advent – those four weeks where Christians take time to reflect on and remember the true meaning of Christmas, and prepare themselves for the birth of Christ. If you looked into the traditions and ways that people observe Advent, you will find that each week has its own focus.
The first one being hope.
In the midst of hopelessness.
It’s a theme found throughout the Christmas story.
The children of Israel experienced hope as God began speaking again after 400 years.
Mary and Joseph found hope as angel upon angel appeared to bring reassurance.
The shepherds experienced hope in the appearance of the heavenly host.
Simeon and Anna found hope as they gazed upon the long-awaited Messiah.
But there’s another experience of hope we tend to overlook.
The arrival of the Magi.
The Christmas story reads as a consecutive list of events. The angel appears to Joseph. Jesus is born in Bethlehem. The Magi appear. One right after another.
However, Historians believe the arrival of the Magi didn’t occur right away. They didn’t show up a few hours, or even days, after Christ was born to bring their gifts. They definitely didn’t find Jesus still laying in a manger.
The Magi appeared two years after Jesus was born.
Two years of Mary, Joseph, and their child living in Bethlehem.
Two years waiting for the census to be completed.
Two years staying in a house that wasn’t their own.
Two years without any fanfare, angelic appearances, or curious shepherds.
The excitement, proclamation, and fanfare of Christ’s birth had worn off.
Mary and Joseph were living with the day-to-day ramifications of parenting the Messiah.
They were far from home.
Away from their family and friends.
Staying in someone else’s house.
And probably running out of money.
Then, out of nowhere, these Magi appear.
They weren’t just ordinary men.
They were members of a learned religious class.
Specializing in astrology, medicine, and natural science.
Traveled months from somewhere around Iran.
And were bearing gifts fit for a king.
The appearance of the Magi reaffirmed the identity of the Christ-child.
It showed Mary and Joseph they weren’t forgotten.
And provided the resources needed to finish their time in Bethlehem and flee to Egypt.
Hope appeared again years after the angelic proclamations, the reappearance of God’s voice, and the birth of the Messiah.
And it continues to appear centuries later in our lives.
So, my brothers and sisters, as we begin journeying through Advent, may you find hope rising up again in your life. May you see God moving in every aspect of your life. And may you, as we inch closer to celebrating the birth of Christ, find the hope to face whatever may come.
How has God used others to bring hope into your life?