These “wise men” who visited Jesus raise a number of questions for us. To begin with they would never have been permitted to worship God in the Temple. They were
Gentiles, and their occupation of divination was forbidden in the Hebrew law. Yet, they are among the first worshippers of Jesus.
Then, there is the curious way they came to Jesus – following signs in the heavens and being led by a star – and how they left – being warned in a dream of Herod’s evil intentions. It’s interesting how clearly they seemed to hear the “voice” of God, while Herod – the king of God’s people – was deaf to the new thing God was doing.
This story quickly blurs the lines we like to draw concerning who is “in” and who is “out” from God’s perspective. The message of this story is strong and clear, though. The birth of Christ, although it happened in a hidden corner of the world, was not just a gift to one group or nation. It was a gift to the entire world, and anyone who is willing to listen, to watch, and to be open to God’s voice can experience God’s grace and love.
As the magi show, it is not just the Scriptures that reveal God to us. Sometimes God speaks through the natural world (the ancient Celts called nature the “Second Bible”). Sometimes God speaks to us through other people. The issue is not whether God is speaking. It’s whether we’re listening. Today, in every person and situation, listen for the voice of God – especially where you don’t expect it.
Like the magi, O God, I choose to listen and watch for the signs of your presence.