Today many Christians celebrate Epiphany, a day that remembers the magi, or wise men, who sought out the infant Jesus. The story is part of Matthew’s Gospel. In the minds of many believers, this date marks the end of the Christmas holidays. For me, it began a serious reflection on the role of strangers in the Bible. On this day in 2015, I began writing a manuscript that I eventually called Sacred Strangers. Whether it will bear that title or not, my book will be published in the fall. Here’s a brief sample.
In Matthew’s Christmas story, the magi are strangers, who come to Jerusalem as they search for a newborn infant. The Jewish King Herod, his advisors and the people of Jerusalem are the believers in this story -- or they should be. But the wise men, the strangers, are the heroes in this tale, the ones whose behavior should influence us all.
The magi are the first outsiders in the Bible who search for Jesus, the first to, literally, lay eyes on him. It is their first glimpse that opens our eyes to the son of God. They model integrity, humility, determination and courage. The believers in the story model ignorance, fear, suspicion, arrogance, laziness and even violence.
As a modern day Christian, which side would you rather be on?