Letter #84: Naughty Nativities

December 23, 2010

Dear magi,

When the Christmas story is shared, you are often treated like the middle child…neglected…at least this is what Dana, my middle sister, always claimed! You are credited with bringing some weird gifts to Jesus when He was born, but we don’t really know much more about you. Actually, some of what we think we know is wrong. Today, I’m your advocate.

This is how we normally depict you in our attempts to reflect the nativity scene in our homes. I have some bad news…(whispers: should we tell them?…ok, ok, we need to be truthful, so I’ll keep going.)…we’ve been doing it ALL wrong. This is more like it!

Biblically, you didn’t show up at the manger where Jesus was born. The shepherds did though (Luke 2:8-20)! After inquiring people in Jerusalem about Jesus’ location, you journeyed to Bethlehem and entered a house where Jesus wouldn’t have been in a manger. We see Jesus born in a manger in Luke 2:7, and we see you entering a house in Matthew 2:11. This along with Herod’s decree to kill all male children two years old and below (Matthew 2:16) make me believe you didn’t arrive until a bit later in Jesus’ life. I don’t know any of this for 100% certain, but I think these little insights do offer new insight to the Christmas story. Heck, we don’t actually know how many of you there were. Did you really show up two years after Jesus’ birth to offer Him your gold, frankincense and myrrh?

Now, I’ll be honest, when you arrived to visit Christ is NOT a hill for me to die on. At the end of the day, I believe you came, and more importantly I believe Christ came. However, your presence in this story has rocked my world. You show up, ask where the ‘King of the Jews’ is, listen to Herod’s instruction and continue to follow the star leading you. What you do upon arrival is what really gets me. You see that you’ve reached your destination because the star was in line, and you ‘rejoiced exceedingly with great joy’ (Matt. 2: 10). You hadn’t even seen Jesus yet. I don’t think I’ve ever rejoiced exceedingly with great joy about anything.

But, it doesn’t stop here. Upon entering the house and seeing the Child, you ‘fell to the ground and worshiped Him’ (Matt. 2:11). I have to put this into perspective. You were on your knees/faces worshipping what couldn’t have been more than two years old. Oh, the power of Christ revealed in this moment. You continue by presenting Him your gifts and then completely reroute your trip home upon a warning from God in a dream (Matt. 2:11-12). You knew Herod had ulterior motives and ignored the king of that area (who could have killed them for disobeying) to obey the Lord.

You encountered Christ as a child and were transformed. Your lives were changed. You rejoiced exceedingly with great joy, fell on your faces in worship, presented lavish gifts and completely changed your plans all because you met Christ. How does this parallel in my life? Is my life completely different because I’ve met Christ? Have I changed my plans to match the Lord’s?

Thanks for the insight and for clarifying your arrival time,

Fixer of manger scenes


One comment

  1. I went to countryside last time I was in Stillawater. Their manger scene is front and center below j.b.’s podium. The magi are wayyy over on a corner of the stage hanging out with each other. Many might not notice, but his guy does, and he loves it. He also loves this post, and any post advocating for a more truthful version of Christmas.

    Santa is a lie! He’s climbin in yo window…Hide ya kids, hide ya wife!

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