Shine for your light has come

At the beginning was the light, a light more brilliant than any we had ever seen, out-shining all the stars of heaven, illuminating the whole world, turning night into day. It appeared from nowhere, in the sky above the eastern ocean, and streamed towards us, becoming brighter and brighter, so that we were dazzled, almost blinded, until suddenly it paused and passed into the Cave of Treasures above us on the mountain.

Ah, I wonder if that may not, in fact, be the beginning for you. Let me explain who we are and where we come from.

My friends and I were watching and waiting for the divine; not heavenly beings, but people like you, who commune with God in silent prayer. We dwell at the farthest edge of the lands toward the dawn. We are called ‘magi’ because we watch and wait in silence, meditating on the writings in the Cave of Treasures, books in which our ancestor Seth recorded the words of his father, Adam. We watch and, when instructed, bring the words of God to children of Adam who are not of the line of Abraham and Jacob. There are always twelve of us. As one dies another is chosen from our people to take his place, sharing our life of prayer and looking for the return of the light that once shone over the Tree of Life in Eden, but which disappeared when the fruit was eaten. Through the ages we have reminded the children of Adam that God has not forgotten them, that the light of life will return in time, to renew and redeem the world. In past days, our ancestors spoke of the light as of a star from Judah. Now, the light had come in the form of a star that filled the Cave with glory. In those days I was the youngest, now I am the oldest, but I remember as if it were mere minutes ago, so powerful the impact on all who saw, heard, and journeyed.

A voice called us into the Cave, and we entered to find the light standing as a human being. Each of us saw him in a different manner: one as a child, another as a boy on the brink of manhood, another as a man beaten and afflicted, another as the fullness of humanity made whole. All heard him speak, telling us to travel west according to his leading, to worship him in the Christ-child born in his own land but not yet recognised by his own people. Elated, we gathered up the treasures left in the Cave of Treasures by Adam and Seth for this purpose – gold to honour his majesty, incense to worship the Godhead, myrrh for the one who would conquer death that all people should be healed.

We set off rejoicing in the light, assured that we needed no provisions, as he who is light is also food for the soul, bread for the journey. A word in parting to our families, a hasty rounding up and saddling of camels, and we were off along the Silk Road, heading west overland to the town of David.

After many months, when we had almost reached the shores of the Mediterranean, we turned and headed south, following the River Jordan to Jerusalem. The people there asked why we had come so far if not to trade, the rich silks of our clothing and pleasing scent of an incense unlike the Arabian ones they knew, convincing them that here were goods of great price. We told them about the star that gives light and life to the world, that we sought him born as king in Israel, but they misunderstood. We were about to set out on the final stage of our journey to Bethlehem, when soldiers came, insisting we visit Herod. Of course, we did, assuring him the king we sought was born in the town, not the city, of David. After consulting priests and scribes, Herod sent us on, insisting we return to tell him everything we found, that he also might go and worship. We were unconvinced that a king with Herod’s reputation for ruthlessness would really choose to bow before Christ, but we did not speak of this in his hearing. Herod, after all, was partly descended from Edom, which the star from Judah would subdue.

At last, we found him. The light that had gone ahead – leading, guiding, feeding, inspiring for many days and nights – stopped above a house in Bethlehem, town of David’s birth, before moving inside to shine over, around, and through the child toddling and crawling at his mother’s side. Telling Mary his mother of the visions with which God had blessed us, we knelt before the infant king and presented the offerings we and our fathers had held in trust for him from ages gone. Oh, what bliss, to worship God born as a human child!

Joseph, returned from his workshop, shared his wife’s concern that we meant to take the child from them, for they loved him dearly, but we affirmed God’s choice of them as earthly parents for his son. We warned them, however, of Herod’s interest, suggesting they make haste to escape his reach. Joseph readily agreed, having been troubled with dreams filled with threatening darkness. As we parted, we left a couple of camels as our own more humble gift, to speed their journey into Egypt and safety. We headed south, towards the Gulf of Aqaba, returning home by sea along the Spice Trail, to share good news, that God in Christ is come to redeem us all.

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