We Three Kings #254
Glorious now behold him arise;
King and God and sacrifice:
Sounds through the earth and the skies.
O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
This hymn was quite controversial when it was published in the mid-1800’s. Many theologians refused to recognize it since it translated the Greek word “magi” from Matthew 2 into “kings.” This didn’t seem to bother the author, Rev. John Henry Hopkins.
In ancient times, “Magi” were a priestly caste in Media and Persia, who practiced astrology and forecasting the future based on the stars. Considering the practices of the times, we can assume that the three magi did not come by themselves but traveled with a rather large group that provided protection. It is also the only way, Harrod’s notice of them makes sense as three lone travelers could have easily gone unseen.
We will never know whether the “magi” of Matthew were wise men, astrologists, kings, or fortune teller. We only know that they saw something in the stars that they felt was worth a journey into the unknown and that they found more than they could have imagined.
The periphery characters of the nativity, the shepherds and the magi, remind us again of the universality of the Christ event. God didn’t come to earth for just one special group of people but for the rich and the poor, the insiders and the outsiders, the native born and the foreigners. All of our categories and classifications, all of our prejudices and long held beliefs about who God chooses fade away as we gaze at a manger scene that claims all people as God’s own.
I thank God, this day that there is room for even me and I pray that I will always make room for others.