“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
Today marks the end of the Christmas celebration with the remembrance that strange men from the East came to greet Jesus as a child.
At Christmas, a Jewish hope was fulfilled and the groaning of God’s weary people was answered. At Epiphany the Gentiles, who had little knowledge of Israel’s God and were far from his presence, were drawn to the light of his coming.
I suppose there are many implications one might want to draw from this. That there is no end to God’s redeeming love, that his embrace reaches all people would be a start. Some would suggest that all who worship, are really worshipping the one true God though they know it not (which leave those people who do not worship in a bit of a lurch). I’ve heard it said that there is therefore no need to worry about the Gospel being communicated clearly and accessibly since people will be drawn to God because of his wondrous works.
That there were stargazers and fortune-tellers, who in their very vocation are transgressing the law of God (Jeremiah 10:2) coming to the knowledge of the truth demonstrates not that all paths lead to the truth, but that truth has come to seek out such people. That these Gentile law-breakers came to worship Jesus when the king of the Jews, Herod, did not illuminates for us that sad condition of the human soul, which would behold wonder and extinguish its flame.
I suppose when I read this story, and reflect on the Old Testament promises it fulfils, I find myself convicted by the unexpected faithfulness of these strangers and the murderous apostasy of the king of God’s people. It is hard to receive the marvellous works of the Lord when they are displayed on such a muddied pedestal as this fragile earth and these creatures of frail flesh.
Readings for today
Isaiah 60-1-6 | Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 | Ephesians 3:1-12 | Matthew 2:1-12
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the Peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.