An Advent story for all ages by Robyn Brown-Hewitt
THOSE WHO LOVE A GOOD MYSTERY will love Matthew’s story of the magi. Who are these mys- terious travellers? When the magi appear in the
nativity story, the main characters—Joseph, Mary, and
the Christ child—seem to slip into the background. Those
now taking centre stage are strange, nameless visitors
with exotic gifts and a brilliant star that has guided them.
Biblical and ancient references describe magi as both
a scientific, scholarly group and a band of enchanters,
magicians, and fortune tellers. They are often thought to
have visionary power and the ability to interpret dreams.
Some say they are Persian priests; other traditions have
named them kings.
However, since they enter the story because of their
ability to read the stars, the best guess is that they are
astrologers. They might have travelled from Persia, a
place familiar with magi. They might have journeyed
from Babylon, which had a long tradition of astronomy.
Perhaps they trekked from Arabia, as indicated by the
gifts they carried. One thing is certain, they are definitely
foreigners; Gentiles visiting Jewish people living under
the oppressive control of a Roman dictator.
The story of the magi is that of the whole gospel
wrapped in a small gift box. The Holy Mystery that is
Wholly Love actively seeks out relationship with us and
is revealed in human form. This takes place in unorthodox ways, in overlooked places, involving unusual people.
Those who should see this don’t; they don’t understand it
or don’t accept it. Yet those who are considered outsiders are often the first to understand. The magi are the
forerunners of all who would welcome the good news.
• If you could ask the wise magi one question, what
would it be?
• If you could take one gift to the Christ child, what
would it be? Why?
• This story points to some of the many terms used
to name the child in the manger (see Activity 1 in
“Unwrapping the Magus’s Story,” page 24). What is
your favourite name for the child, and why?
• Imagine that you are one of the magi. What do you
see in the stable? Using up to 140 characters, tweet
the news using #AdventUnwrapped
• Read “The Magus’s Story” (page 26).