Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Near: In a Close or Intimate Manner

What joy for those you choose to bring near,
those who live in your holy courts.
What festivities await us
inside your holy Temple.
(Psalm 65:4 NLT)

“Happy You Near” (quote on a mailbox in our neighborhood, they have a magnetic message board attached to it. I love reading the quotes on the way to walk with my friends.)

We are nearing the end of Christmastide. In three days, the feast of Epiphany will be celebrated. The time when the church remembers that the Magi came from afar to be near a miracle. Their journey intrigues me. They studied the stars and by faith followed a significant star across many miles to confirm a prophecy.

Two short paragraphs in Matthew’s gospel recount the visit of the wise men. The details are sparse. He doesn’t say how long it took them to get to Jerusalem, just that they were from the east and had travelled there. They were looking for a king and wanted to worship him. They found a king ruling who said he wanted to worship this king as well, but he was not telling the truth. He was jealous of this newborn king, so insanely jealous that he slaughters many children to secure his own future. This tragic event darkens the retelling of Jesus’ birth. I can never justify or explain this adequately to myself.

So instead I focus on the pageantry and majesty of an entourage of learned men and their caravan of camels loaded with provisions for their journey. Marveling at their faith, their perseverance and their generosity as they arrive to venerate the baby king, to worship with what they have and to draw near to one promised to save all mankind from their sins.

It’s just the beginning. As this year unfolds, I want to draw near to the one who came to save. To bring my questions and ponder why pain and joy coincide over and over again. I may never make sense of the paradox of a baby becoming a king or a king dying on a cross for His subjects, but I do know I want to experience, understand and worship Him with all the faith, perseverance and generosity of the Magi.

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