“On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage.“
The wise men don’t belong in nativity scenes. I say that as a true hypocrite. Susan and I have wise men in all of our nativities at home. But many scholars say it could have been up to a year or more before they arrived in Bethlehem. One reason for this claim is the note in Matthew that “they entered the house.” Remember, Jesus was born in a stable, not a house. Since Bethlehem was the place of Joseph’s ancestry, perhaps he had relatives who took him and Mary and the baby into their home. Anyway, when it comes to guests who paid homage to Jesus, the wise men got there last.
My brother-in-law, Steve Wilke, talks about one of the more memorable sermons his father preached when he was a kid. The Sunday after Christmas his dad talked about the wise men arriving last and how we all come to Christ by different paths. Some can’t remember a time when they didn’t worship Jesus. They were brought up in church, and faith came easy. Some come to faith later in life, but without much struggle. Then there are others. Wise ones. People who process life through the intellect. Issues have to make sense to them before they can accept them. Faith can be a long journey for some. Certain faith claims can be like high hurdles to get past. But even the rational, intellectual route can bring one to a place of arrival where their deep questions are met by divine mystery that doesn’t always result in answers, but it does offer peace. The wise men got there last, but thank goodness faith is not a race. Whatever brings one to a place of worship where we are moved to offer our gifts, the route that got us there is not just a legitimate one, it is a blessed one.
And just like the wise men returned home by a different way, faith experiences usually open us to paths that take our lives in new directions.
I hope to see you Sunday as we ponder further this curious, powerful, and not always easy to accept, matter of faith.