Their names were Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior…at least according to biblical tradition. But very little is known of them, and what is known is based on traditional stories and interpretations more than any information of a decidedly factual nature.
I’m speaking here of the Three Wise Men, also known as Magi or Kings. They make their appearance in the Bible in the Christmas story, arriving 12 days after the birth of Jesus. They arrive in order to pay homage and praise the birth of this “new born King.”
Surprisingly, the Bible tells us strikingly little about the Wise Men. It doesn’t even tell us how many Wise Men there were, we only assume there were three because they bring three gifts…gold, frankincense and myrrh. Almost everything else we know about the Wise Men (Magi or Kings) is based on traditions that developed through the centuries after their biblical appearance.
Among the traditions that developed through the centuries, and one I appreciate most, is often reflected in contemporary nativity sets. Whether purchased from discount stores or the most expensive church supply stores, contemporary images of the traditional Wise Men are often now depicted as being of three different races… imagined with dark skin, medium skin and light skin.
Why is this developed tradition so important? Well, it has to do with what I talked about in my December article… family. Much like at the foot of Jesus’ manger, Christ Lutheran Church is a place where allare welcome…whether those who look “different” than many of us or those who live differently than many of us.To “Grow in Faith, Serve Those in Need, and Draw All People to Christ” is the mission statement of Christ Lutheran Church. It’s our reminder and calling to avoid remaining stagnant but to grow, to prevent staying closed in on ourselves but to serve others, to counteract a closed-in community but to call all “others” into our midst. By living our mission statement we pray that we as a family, as a community in Christ, with all our gifts and differences, might be present at the manger of the Christ Child as were the Wise Men, with their gifts and differences.
While Christmas is over for another year, we are left with an unexpected gift from God…the model of Christian living imaged for us by the Wise Men and lived out among us in the family we understand as Christ’s own at Christ Lutheran Church. As a family we live out our differences and respective and God-given gifts as a community... and as a family these gifts and differences come together and make us one family in God. Ours is a family where others with their gifts and differences are welcome and come together to make our community complete.
We at Christ Lutheran Church continue to invite all people into the community we call Church, that, among all our differences and gifts that make us family, we come together to bow down and worship our King.