Last year during Advent, I began a series of “peeks” through the eyes of various characters present at the coming of Jesus and what they might have felt in those weeks leading Toward Bethlehem. This year, I’ll be reposting those, as well as adding new installments, starting with this one. I hope you enjoy and are blessed, as I have been, with taking time in this busy season to ponder what it means that God became flesh, and dwelt among us.
Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to the Perfect Light.
Balthazar, one of the Magi
By the flickering flames of the oil lamps I’ve set about my table, I bend over the map, tracing the star’s pathway with my finger.
“What do you think?” Melchior peers over my shoulder.
“Israel,” I confirm. My heart gives a leap. Are we really this close?
I hear a strain of disappointment in his voice.
“But not only for the Jews.” I reach for another scroll and carefully unroll the delicate parchment. “Listen!”
I read slowly, my tongue stumbling over the unfamiliar Hebrew words.
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples, but the LORD will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising…A multitude of camels will cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba will come; tey will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the LORD.” (Isaiah 60:1-3,6)
I pause and swallow against a sudden tightness in my throat. Good news. How long has it been since I’ve really heard some, despite all the wealth and luxury and honor of men we Magi carry? They do nothing to ease the unseen burdens of the heart.
“It says that?” Melchior strokes his beard. “About other nations and kings?”
“There’s more.” I scan a little further up the scroll:
“‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’ Thus says the LORD, the redeemer of Israel and its Holy One, to the despised One, to the One abhorred by the nation, to the Servant of rulers, ‘Kings will see and arise, princes will also bow down, because of the LORD who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You.’” (Isaiah 49:6-7)
I do not understand them all, these words. But what I read draws me, like the star gleaming in night blackness, holding promise of quenching for this thirst that wracks my sleep and parches my soul. No longer can I stand our rituals and sacred fire, our blind acquiescence to the unknowable good and evil. If there is a God who is knowable, if there is even a chance He wants to be known by such as we . . .
“I’m going.” Almost before I think them, the words spring from my mouth.
“What?” Melchior whirls from gazing at the star to stare at me.
Slowly I push to my feet, my heart beginning to pound with the certainty what I have just said, the enormity of it. And yet, the rightness.
“I’m going to follow that star.”