When we step off of our front porch into our neighbourhoods we step into the lives of others and allow others into our own lives. It is an act of tremendous hospitality to care for our neighbours by leaving the comforts of our world and meeting others. We connect with others because we believe that life in community is the better way; we realize that we were not made to live for ourselves alone. Christmas is a season of reaching out to others, for stepping into the hope that there is something special and life-giving happing in our community. We are part of a story.
The Christmas story centres around the birth of Jesus, a long awaited King and Saviour. The main characters in the Christmas story did not know what was truly unfolding all around them. Mary and Joseph were vital to the story and we celebrate their faithfulness. But there were other unexpected invitees into this nativity tale. In this story were several ‘wise men’ or ‘magi.’ We do not know where they came from, except that they were from the Far East; probably from what is modern day Iraq or Iran. Popular Christmas carols sing about three wise men, because they brought three gifts to Jesus of gold, frankincense and myrrh – symbolic gifts for a special newborn king. There may have been more than three, it could have been an entourage of visitors.
These wise men are unique in the story. They were not insiders or relatives to Jesus, they were not Jewish nor did they come from Jesus’ home town. They came from far away, from places and a people group who had a colourful history of peace and conflict with the Jewish people. But they stepped out from their culture and away from their home to go on a journey, all because they saw a star.
Today we do not know if this was a star, a comet, or something else. But these were wise men who understood that whatever they saw, they had to follow. It was a message of hope, even for them. By stepping out, these outsiders became insiders to this story. They dodge around brutal King Herod and make their way to Jesus. They become surprising guests who bring gifts in a story that did not seem to be their own.
Yet it was very much their story. Because they stepped out, they became a beautiful part of it. With hospitality and hope, they followed a star, took a journey, and entered into history. Today in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, faded with time, is a mural featuring these Persian visitors from far away.
What story is unfolding in front of you this Christmas season? What star is beckoning you to follow and step into something new and unexpected? Together we are discovering that the story of our neighbourhood is our story, too. We are not outsiders to our community, rather we are insiders – invited into the unfolding story happening all around us.
This Christmas, may you find hope, peace, love, and joy as you follow the star and step off of your front porch and into God’s beautiful story. Merry Christmas