Back to the Wise Men. They are traditionally Magi from Persia who studied the writings of the Hebrew prophets, esp. Daniel. During the time when the leadership of Israel was exiled to Babylon, Daniel came into favor in the court. You can read all about that in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. Magi were priests of the cult of Zoroaster which involved studying the stars and interpreting their message. This eventually led to astrology as we know it and magic.
“…sometimes we run by the power of His might,
But we are not just homeless prodigals here
What we hopefully look for is just beyond sight
Amid the Christmas and New Year’s bustle and parties and resolutions, I can forget that it is all transitory and that “God has prepared [for us] a city” so that we will not always be pilgrims. The Magi return to Babylon. Joseph and his family eventually return from Egypt. Our journey of faith will end someday in “the City of the Great King,” as Card sings. Along the way, we are called to act more and more in the “power of His might.” As 2011 dawns, what can I do to “follow the One who holds out a cross and a crown”?
*(excerpt from Mary, My Love, by Cynthia Davis (c) 2010)
Balthazar bowed low to me. “Thank you, Joseph for your welcome. We followed the sign from God to your door. See the star is setting.” I looked in the direction the man pointed. Low and brilliant in the dark sky hung a star unnoticed before. “Now we have seen the child for ourselves and can return to our home in peace.”
After another low bow, the man joined Melchior by the gate. Caspar lingered at my side. He seemed to be deciding whether or not to speak.
At last he nodded decisively. “We may have brought danger with us.” The young man lowered his head almost in shame. Guiltily he glanced toward his comrades.
I waited, wondering what the man meant.
“When we reached the border of Judea clouds hid the star from us. We argued.” He rubbed his brow in distress. “I insisted that the one we sought would be a prince and must be found in Jerusalem in the royal palace.”
I felt my heart lurch.
Slowly he confessed, “Despite their wise counsel to wait for the clouds to clear and follow the star, I insisted on proceeding to the capital. ‘Where else would a prince of the house of David be born?’ My foolish words will haunt me forever.” Looking toward his waiting companions, the young man seemed to draw courage. “We reached Herod’s palace. ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews?’ My question sent courtiers scurrying, I must admit. We were ushered into the king’s throne room. In that moment I knew how wrong I had been. We were in the presence of sheer evil. Herod questioned us closely.”
The man paused to remove his turban and run fingers through thick curls. Then he stood turning the head covering in his hands.
Caspar’s eyes begged for understanding when he raised them to mine. “After a while the king pretended to be interested in our talk of a promised redeemer. He sent for several of the priests and scribes. One old man had an immediate answer to the question ‘Where will Messiah be born?’ He quoted one of your prophets and named Bethlehem. Herod turned to us then, ‘Behold your answer, Magi. Seek for this child and bring me word that I may worship him.’ He does not plan homage but harm.”
Some inarticulate sound came from my throat.
“We will not return to Herod,” the young Magi assured me, “but that may not do anything more than delay the king slightly.”
“Yes.” The strangled word barely sounded like my voice. “Thank you.”
“May the One God who is Light protect you and your family.”
Caspar bowed low to me. The last I saw of the Magi was three shadows moving up the street behind Elam. I stared for a long time at the glowing star low on the horizon.