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The good news for the day January 8, 2017

The Epiphany of the Lord (20)

Herod sent the Magi to Bethlehem telling them, “Go on—search carefully for this child. Once you have found him, bring me word, so that I can go too, and express my respects.” After their audience with the king the Magi went away. To their surprise, the light in the sky that they had been watching since it appeared went ahead of them, until it came to a place where it stopped over the place where the child was. They were quite happy seeing the light there, and—entering the house—they saw the baby with Mary his mother. They showed their greatest respect and did him homage. They then opened their treasure chests to offer him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, though, they went back to their country a different way. (Matthew 2)

This tableau re-appears in our Nativity scenes—the three “kings” in splendor offering gifts to the Baby and family. Please, though—look at it afresh. The Bible is clear—these “magi” came from a pagan world; they were religious and political leaders in a pagan state and monotheistic religion (Zoroastrianism) that had been around for many centuries in Persia (Iran) and not only exists today, but has influenced many religions.

What is this event really about—for you? This Magi-Zoroastrian tradition looked at nature in a friendly way—almost scientifically—stressing that we need nature’s “water and fire “—prominent motifs of Jesus—to bring chaos and evil under control. The Magi-worldview offered some striking similarities to teachings of Jesus—about rituals, morality, light-and-darkness, “the ‘way’ and the ‘truth’ and the ‘life.’”

In other words, these men reminded Christians that truth can come to you from outside your comfort zone—with gifts to enrich you, gifts that clarify your practice of goodness and truth. But such gifts also cause you to be threatened from forces beyond your control—forces that want you to conform to their governance. Learn the lesson! THAT is the Good News.

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