Today, January 5th, the eve of Epiphany, I would like to conclude the season of Christmas by remembering the visit of the Magi. The Magi were members of the religious hierarchy of ancient Persia and Media (the region corresponding to modern Iran). They were scholars and practitioners of astrology, divination, and the interpretation of dreams. Their expertise in these arcane subjects is the reason they were often referred to as "wise men." The Magi of Babylonia undoubtedly came into contact with exiled Jewish priests living among them. Through these acquaintances the Magi learned of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of Christ, including the cryptic "messianic star" passage of Numbers 24:17. This explains why the astral phenomenon described in Matthew 2:1-12 so fascinated the wise men of the gospel narrative.
Many legends about the wise men have arisen over the centuries. These include the traditions that there were three Magi who visited Jesus, that their names were Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, and that they were kings.
Regardless of details, it is fitting and right for us to join with the Magi in worshiping Christ. As the Christmas season (December 25-January 5) nears it's end, we join together in prayer:
O star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light.
About the Art:
"Adoration of the Magi" tapestry by Edward Burne-Jones was originally commissioned in 1886 for the Gothic revival chapel of Exeter College in Oxford. The overall composition and the figures were designed by Burne-Jones, who completed the 26x38 inch design in watercolor heightened with gold in 1887.
About the Music:
"One King" by contemporary Christian music group Point of Grace introduces a new twist to the Three Kings story by adding Jesus' presence as the fourth king - the King of all kings.