Magi – The Gift of the Journey

Journey of the Wisemen by Trijsten Leach

During my childhood, Nana had a heartwarming tradition. Once the house was decorated for Christmas and the nativity scene was up, she would playfully move the wise men (Magi) around the house until Christmas Day, when they would be at the manger. Although this is a sweet memory to look back on, it makes me wonder, outside of the nostalgia, what is it God wants us to see in the Magi’s journey?

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the East came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)

The Magi’s journey, much like my Nana’s tradition, mirrors the spiritual journey of all believers—the path to Christ. Just as the Magi set out to follow a star on a quest to find the newborn King, our spiritual journey had a beginning. It may have started with curiosity or a desire for purpose; either way, that spark of light caught our attention. The Magi moving through the house reminds us that the search for God begins from a distance, but it is a journey worth undertaking.

The journey of the Magi was not straightforward; it involved challenges and moments of uncertainty. Just like our own spiritual journeys are often marked by twists and turns, it requires patience and faith to persevere, trusting God to guide us along the way, just as the star guided the Magi. Moving the Magi through the house also reminds us of our need to trust in God’s guidance despite obstacles we encounter.

It is important to note that these were not Jewish men; they were scholars and astrologers from the East, known for their wisdom and study of the heavens. They observed a new star rising in the night sky, a celestial sign of unparalleled significance. This star was the harbinger of hope, beckoning them to seek the newborn King. When the Magi finally reached Jesus, they bowed and worshiped Him, offering gifts to the Christ child. This is it. This is what all the travel, perseverance, and dedication had been for, reaching Jesus. In our own spiritual journey, the destination is encountering Christ. It is there where we find true meaning and fulfillment. And when we arrive at our destination, at the feet of Jesus, like the Magi, we offer our lives in worship and surrender to the Savior.

Nana’s tradition of moving the Magi now makes me think of how our path to Christ is transformative. Each step towards Him changes us, making us more like Him in the process. It’s a reminder that we are shaped and molded by our pursuit of Jesus. The Magi’s journey speaks to us of patience, worship, and surrender, not based on our culture or upbringing. No, it is based on our seeking.

Father, as we think of our Christmas traditions and ponder the Magi, remind us of the importance of seeking, being guided, and following the path. Teach us patience, Lord, and help us to trust You when we face obstacles along the way. And as we travel with You, each day growing closer to You, help us to surrender to worship. During this Christmas season, Thank You for the sweet memories and all the ways You speak to your children. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Joseph – Quiet Strength & Commitment

The Holy Family – Artist Unknown

The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit. So her husband, Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-19 (CSB)

While reading the Gospel of Matthew, my thoughts wandered to Joseph and the emotional upheaval he must have experienced upon discovering Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant. Contemplating the disappointment and uncertainty that arise when our plans diverge from God’s plan, I marveled at Joseph’s reaction.

In a society where he had the legal right, according to the law of Moses, to have Mary stoned for adultery, Joseph’s response was unexpectedly compassionate. Instead of exposing Mary to public disgrace, he chose a quieter path, walking away with a shattered heart rather than seeking her harm. The compassion in his natural reaction closely resembles that of The Father’s compassion towards us. Surely, this is why he was chosen to be the earthly father of our Lord Jesus.

As I get older, Joseph is easily becoming my favorite “character” in the Christmas story. His quiet obedience speaks volumes and stirs my own faith. While we acknowledge Mary’s obedience and understand Joseph’s role in staying with Mary, raising Jesus, and imparting his trade to him, it’s crucial to pause and reflect on the enormity of what Joseph was asked to do.

An upstanding man in the community, Joseph was asked to risk his reputation to raise a child that was not biologically his; in fact, he was asked to believe that this baby was God’s Son! The pressure of being asked to guide and protect the very Son of our Creator adds extraordinary dimension to Joseph’s role. He wasn’t just called to raise Mary’s child but to safeguard the Savior of the entire world. This included journeys to Bethlehem while Mary was with child and later fleeing to Egypt to shield Jesus from King Herod’s threat (Matthew 2:13-20). Without Joseph’s protective presence shielding them from danger, who’s to say what could have happened to Mary and Jesus?

Joseph’s obedience isn’t a grand spectacle like Jesus’ glory or Mary’s sacrifice. Instead, it’s found in the steady, quiet steps of a simple “yes.” It’s a willingness to step back and humbly submit to another’s call. In Joseph’s case, he became the sturdy foundation of the holy family, ensuring that Mary had everything she needed to fulfill her calling. Let’s not allow Joseph’s obedience to fade into the background. May our own faith and response to God’s call, and the calls on the lives of those around us, be anything but ordinary.

As we reflect on Christ’s birth, we recognize that each person in the story carries a message for the Church today. Looking at Joseph, I find inspiration in his quiet strength and unwavering commitment to God’s plan. May this same spirit reside in us.

Father, thank You that we get to know about Christ’s birth and that You have a message for your Church today wrapped in each one of the people involved in the story. As we look at Joseph, I am inspired by his quiet strength and his unwavering commitment to Your plan. Do that in us, Lord. Help us to walk more like Joseph. May the Holy Spirit fill us so much that integrity, compassion, humility, and willingness to serve You flourish like wildflowers at the river. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.