Spiritual Friendship: Magi-Style

journey_of_the_magiChristmas is near and the Nativity story hangs heavy in the air.

In our home, Aimee builds a stone and driftwood creche above the fireplace.  In the scene sits an empty manger and a lone cow.  Around the room are placed the characters of Christmas.  The shepherds sit on a “hill” of books watching over the scene below.  Mary and Joseph are traveling along the mantle road.  And the Wise Men are way off in the dining room, taking the longest trek of all.

The Magi may be my favorite participants, at least in recent years.

Here is a portion of an article I wrote for Christianity Today a couple of years ago.  I hope you enjoy it.

On the feast of Epiphany (January 6), the Magi (wise men) arrive. They are odd characters aren’t they? On several levels, they are so incongruent with the rest of Christ’s birth story that we can only assume that their appearance is not only historically accurate, but also theologically necessary.

Who were the Magi anyway? They appear to be spiritual scholars of some kind who—prompted by a strange star—went on a great quest to discover the divine story. They were not Christians (there were no Christians as such at this point in history). There is nothing in the text to suggest they were Jews either. They were stargazers from the East. Were they Zoroastrians? Astrologers? We do not know. But they are most assuredly spiritual “exotics” within the narrative of Jesus. They stand out.

You know what is most shocking to me about the Magi? How comfortable Matthew—the Jewish disciple of Jesus—was to include the Magi in his Gospel. And more importantly, how delighted Jesus, through the inspiring Holy Spirit, was to welcome these spiritual foreigners into their nativity story.

Maybe it’s because the Magi were viewed as spiritual friends.

To read the entire article please click here to visit the original post on Christianity Today’s website.

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