The wise men who came to Bethlehem bringing gifts to the newborn king are, without question, the most mysterious characters of Christmas.
Shepherds, guarding their sheep at night, received an angelic announcement of the birth of the promised savior. Unlike them, the wise men traveled far following a star without the benefit of confirming words of angels along the way.
Were these wise men kings, as the familiar carol proclaims?
Probably not; at least there is no mention of this in the Bible.
What then do we know about these wise ones who find their way to our mailboxes on Christmas cards every year?
We know they arrived after Christmas, Matthew 2:11. We know they were wise; perhaps advisers to important people, and we know they began their journey east of Bethlehem; most think in Babylon - Iraq - following a star.
We also know they were wealthy because of the expensive gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh they presented to the newborn king as they worshipped him. Their example of gift giving is remembered by millions each year, but their worship is often forgotten.
We're missing something important here.
Worship was the most important gift of all; a gift they needed to give, and in worshiping that day, their long journey was made worthwhile.
Christmas week, while returning from a mall where I had been searching for a gift for my wife, I was involved in a serious accident. A car darted in front of me from a driveway along a five-lane, heavily traveled highway, and there was no way I could avoid the frightening crash that followed.
The hours that followed found me in an emergency room surrounded by sounds of misery and pain while experiencing some of my own.
Finally, dressed in a skimpy blue hospital gown, I was wheeled into the x-ray department where the temperature seemed barely above the wintry blast outside. The technician was friendly however, and the warmth of her smile and cheerful attitude made the cold more bearable.
"Do you like your job?" I asked.
"I love it," she replied.
Then I asked a question that took her by surprise.
"Where do you attend church?"
"It's interesting you've asked," she half-laughed.
"I have no religion at all, but I've decided to visit a church."
Upon learning where she lived, I was able to recommend a church near her home and urged her to visit a service there soon.
"I'm going to do that," she promised.
What moved a young woman without any religious background to finally feel her need to learn more about God and how to worship him? The same heavenly pull that brought the wise men to Bethlehem to present their gifts and worship the promised king.
A popular bumper-sticker says, "Wise men still seek him."
Wise women do, too!
Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich. He has written more than 20 books and has had articles published in most major Christian magazines. He was a pastor for 22 years and has been a guest speaker in many Alaska churches.
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