Yesterday I shared my personal experience with 'Nurse supervisor Learch' when I was a student nurse. Something that caused this supervisor to be constantly on the defensive was the wave of change that enveloped public hospitals in the late 1970's. 'Learch' wanted things to return to 'stable days' when nurses where female and unmarried, doctors were male and married (preferably not to nurses), maintenance men where actually men and all was well in the universe. Learch was one of the breed of nursing supervisors that saw 'male nurses' as the cause of all this instability. So I get the funny side of reverse discrimination banter and 'black humour". It's why I highly value the Christmas card given me by a certain 'bishop's wife' last year, which depicted two women discussing the merits or otherwise of the biblical story of the birth of Jesus and one women says to the other, "A virgin giving birth to a baby I can believe, but a visit by three wise men is unbelievable". The 'magi' recorded in our reading today, were indeed wise in their understanding but we do not know how many of them made the journey. Their number, nor their wisdom is not actually central nor important; what is important is the global impact that the birth of the Messiah King had upon humanity. The "Magi" came from the east to Jerusalem to look for the new King that had been born, for they had 'seen his star when it rose, so they came to worship this new king (vs 2).
This encounter between the Magi and the earthly King Herod as well as the heavenly encounter between the Magi and Jesus is one more example of the variety of people who recognised the significance of the birth of this particular baby. Many months have passed since his birth, and no doubt many more experiences and learnings have been stored up in Mary's memory bank (remember yesterdays devotion from Luke's gospel). In fact, it would appear that Jesus was between 1- 2 years old at this time, because Herod put plans in place to kill all male children under the age of 2 because of the time line he had learned from the Magi (see verse 16). Humanly speaking, this ruthless puppet King was not at all a King after the Heart of King David. He was a king intent on securing his own place and eliminating any potential rivals. He was also a King of Israel who failed to appreciate the significance of the very prophetic words that his own Priests were telling him. They knew the significance of the birth of this boy, they quoted the Prophet Micah, and they told King Herod of the significance of this birth. At his birth, Angelic visitors heralded his entry into the arena of humanity and as he grew older, foreign dignitaries came in search of him to honour and worship him. The heavenly host knew, the local shepherds and townsfolk knew and even emissaries from foreign countries knew of the significance of this growing, maturing 'king'. The creator of the universe has set in motion a great rescue plan that earthly authorities would not be able to impede. "We have come to worship him" are the words of the magi as they address King Herod; they recognise his 'brilliance' and declare to the one who thinks he is in control, their intent to bow their knee to a new King.
Who are you 'bowing before' today? Who are you worshipping? In your journey toward Jesus, are you following 'his star' or are you at risk of being distracted by other 'bright lights'?