So...in the church calendar...today marks Epiphany...the day we remember the Wise Men's discovery and adoration of Jesus.
Of course, Mr. Webster includes the Magi's discovery in his definition of Epiphany. But, it's his next words that grab me: "a sudden insight into reality or the essential meaning of something, often initiated by some simple, commonplace occurrence."
It's these words that grip me...that make me hope...long...for 2013 to be the year of Epiphany...for me...for you...for us. The year when we have sudden insight into True Reality...into the essential meaning of Someone...through the simple, commonplace occurrences of our day-to-day lives.
As I read the story of these mysterious Magi on this Epiphany morning...how like God to give me an epiphany of my own.
For, many years...I assumed the Wise Men always had "their"star to guide them. But... when you look a little more closely...they didn't. At least for part of their journey, "their" star disappeared...had quit shining in their night.
Yet, they kept traveling...they kept relying on the memory of the light they had received...the excitement they had felt...in the few days when that brilliant star had captured their hearts...They kept believing those ancient writings which told them about a "star that would come out of Jacob" (Numbers 24:17).
But, everything in me knows they kept hoping to see that star...that brilliant, shining light ...the one that extinguished their darkness...their fear and doubts. Everything in them longed to see that king-announcing star again...just one more time.
And...their risk...their willingness to take the next-oh-so-many-steps-in-the-dark...to keep up their pilgrimage through mountains and valleys...wind and rain...to not let their fear and doubt cause them to sit down or turn around...to keep traveling...in the dark, with no star to guide them...toward this prophesied "star of Jacob"....
Well...that takes them to their Epiphany!
"Then the star appeared again,
the same star they had seen in the eastern skies.
It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child.
They could hardly contain themselves:
They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!
They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother...."
(Matthew 2:9-11, The Message)
The right place...at the right time....Isn't that what each of us wants? Isn't that the desire and longing that drives us?
But...what this Magi story teaches me is that Epiphany...this sudden insight into the essential meaning of something...ALWAYS involves risk...taking the next-oh-so-many-because-it's-the-right-thing-to-do-steps-in-the-dark...and not letting my fear and doubt cause me to sit down or turn around.
This Epiphany story teaches me that their risk...(our risk)...their days and nights spent traveling without their star...brings them (and us) to the Wisdom and Reality for which their minds and hearts have always been searching...but never quite found...until Epiphany. Their star-less...but persevering, un-quitting journey leads them to a treasure worth far more than the one they laid at His and Mary's feet.
What we learn...what we see and hear and somehow even feel...with them...is that at the end of their sometimes star-less journey, "they were overwhelmed with joy!" (Matthew 2:10, RSV)
What then can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet, what can I give Him?
--Give Him my heart.
("In the Bleak Midwinter," by Christina Rosetti)