A reflection I read a while ago described the Three Kings of Epiphany in a way that I hadn’t been aware of before. According to this author, the Magi were not kings of foreign lands or even what in our culture we would describe as “wise men.” They were not astronomers trying to find the scientific significance of a new star, but astrologers.
It’s one thing to think of leaders of nations bringing tribute to the newborn Savior; it’s something far different to think of three freelance star-gazers trying to get a headline about UFOs appearing over Bethlehem and an exotic birth story for their version of the National Enquirer.
It goes to the implausibility of it all.
We’ve just come through two highly implausible liturgical seasons: Advent and Christmas. We heard stories of a young woman named Mary listening to an angel(!) telling her to disregard everything she thought she knew about where babies come from. We then bore witness and rejoiced at the birth of this child, whom we believe is both human and divine all in one – without a shred of DNA evidence or anything else, we in our day and age would expect to prove paternity. It really is starting to sound like a story out of the National Enquirer, complete with the holes our logical minds can’t seal over. Of course, it’s all going to get even more implausible when we start hearing stories of water changing to wine and feeding five thousand with two loaves of bread and a fish, not to mention rising from the dead after three days!
Such is a life of faith. We don’t see, we can’t see, but we know someday it will be shown to us. And in the meantime, we enter the season of Epiphany, the season of revelation with a small “r,” when we celebrate the small rents in the fabric of our own realities that let us glimpse what shines at us from beyond. We will hear of that revelation in stories about baptism and miracles, but will we actually get to see that light shining?
It’s easier than seeing the UFOs in a National Enquirer photo.
We are going to have several opportunities to experience that light in the coming months. We’re helping an Afghan family who came to this country to escape certain persecution and possible death, who, for now, until they get established, can’t afford the basics. We’re beginning to explore stories of our own past that have been hidden for years, researching the stories of Africans brought to our town as slaves through the Witness Stones Project. Everyone is invited to participate; however you can, you are invited too.
A careful observer once noted that when folks got involved in helping others that incredible things started to happen – not so much to the people being helped, but to the helpers themselves. When we get involved, we get the chance to experience an Epiphany of our own.
And how implausible is that?