tag : bright yellow-green apples: spiritual nomads

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Thursday, January 06, 2005

spiritual nomads

figure 10.4. found you

I've just found it's epiphany today, when the story of figures (variously described as kings, magi, and wise men) travelling to visit Jesus is celebrated. It's significance, it is said, comes from the early recognition of Jesus' significant status. This is given greater resonance by these very first acknowledges being gentile people. Here is a universal spin on his eventual mission, the writers indicating that they see his work extending beyond the Jewish peoples, which is again taken up at the end of Matthew's gospel account with the great commission.

I've always been a bit ambivalent about this story, it seems so glossy and blockbuster clean. The story of the shepherds has often had greater resonance, not because it's more credible (visions aside, it has a little less of a contrived air), but because it seems more organic, more wildly spontaneous - less forced around a structural mould. Though it could be that what made me most uncomfortable about the visitors from the east is that they are awkward figures in every sense. They break the taboos of religion by crossing it's boundaries. They're no respecters of inherent traditions or integrity, but would probably now be charged with syncracy by every decent orthodox Jew or Christian. If we respect difference, we're supposed to be at least concerned by this sort of behaviour. And yet here they are nonetheless, pointing towards Emmanuel, saying "here he is" to anyone who would care to notice.

This seems to be a lesson, to watch out for those spiritual nomads who show us the divine face and acknowledge him where he is. When we might otherwise miss his coming amongst us, thank God for their insight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd have thought you'd love the fact that Jesus was recognised as significant by astologers!

(It's Graeme, by the way, but I don't have a username so I'll just appear as anonymous.)

11:23 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

I find astrologers tend to be really annoying types who misuse our great universe to dupe others and themselves ;P But of ourse I'll stick up for 'em as soon as any other Christian has a go! Actually, that's what I mean in a sense - it's often the most unexpected who recognise God at work.

11:56 AM  

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