Peace

Matthew 2:1-12

Good morning. My name is Gaspar and yes, I was one of those so-called Wise Men who met your Saviour. God granted me a day pass to come and speak to you this morning. Something has been bothering me which needs to be cleared up. You have been talking about this journey me and my friends made for more than 2,000 years now. A lot of paint has been applied to this story over the years. So much so, that it has become almost unrecognizable to me. Today, I would like to take a cloth and some turpentine to this picture and clear away a lot of that buildup.
The truth of our story lies beneath the coats.
*****
So let’s begin with first things first. I hope you heard me when I said it was YOUR saviour we sought. He wasn’t ours. He came from the root of your family tree, the root of Jesse and King David. We, in the divisions of that time, were considered Gentiles, that would be pagans to you. This is an important fact. It was outsiders, foreigners, pagans who were seeking your Messiah, when the rest of his own kind were closing the doors of their inns on him. Your people had given up hope of ever seeing their Messiah. We outsiders, had not lost that hope. Take a moment to think about that.
*****
The second matter to clear up here is who we really were. This nice little scene you have up there on your screen would be very poignant if it were true. To have wealthy and powerful kings coming on bended knee to offer precious gifts, fit for the Messiah. Unfortunately, we were nothing like that. If you had to put a label on us we were Zoro/Astrian priests. We aligned ourselves with one of the first religions the world has ever known. Zoro/Astrianism became the foundation to Hinduism.
But we were not high and mighty and certainly not wealthy. We had abandoned the pursuit of possessions so we could devote our entire lives to academic inquiry such as astronomy, theology, philosophy. We were, you might say, the prelude to your impoverished university students. We wore simple robes and ate simple meals, our noses in the books and our eyes to the sky. You see, we were seekers, not just of our own world, but of all the cultures of the world.
*****
Sorry, I missed a step here. What did we basically believe? We believed that the world was created by what you might call God, others Ali, others the Great Spirit, Jehovah, Yahweh, and what the indigenous call the Great Greater. We believed in a force beyond ourselves who gave life and order to the universe. We also believed that this Creator created twin spirits that seem prevalent in every culture we studied. One spirit was known to us the spirit of truth and light, the other, the spirit of untruth and darkness. These two spirits have inhabited the world since the beginning.
We, therefore, are those who are seeking the spirit of truth and light. There was no problem seeing the darkness in our world, just as we know the spirit of untruth and darkness is not hard to find in yours. In our pursuit, we have studied every religion, every belief system, every scroll and document we could find. Which is what led us to this quest.
It has been recorded in your scriptures that one would arise from among you who would bear the name Messiah, ‘the one who comes to save.’ We wondered if this Messiah would bear the spirit of truth and light and become a light which shines in our darkness. We needed to know. So, we set out.
*****
Now, here are few fun facts that may have nothing to do with the heart of the story but may put things into context. Some people have deduced that because there were three gifts presented to this Christ child, that there were probably three Kings. Not quite. There were honestly quite a lot of us. I would have thought that knowing we have been travelling for more than 3 years would have given you a clue; that you need a lot people to take on a journey like this.
I can’t tell you how many of us there were exactly, but we needed cooks, and people to mend our tents and clothes, and those who could hunt and those who could pack the mules. Oh, and that reminds me, these three noble camels? Sorry. We did have one miserable old thing of a camel that would just as soon spit at you than let you ride him.
Pack mules is what we used and our own two feet. We would travel all over, setting up camp for a while when we ran out of supplies, hiring ourselves out as manual labour, farm hands and the like. When we had enough to renew our stock, we’d load up and move on.
Towns and villages were suspicions of such large groups entering their towns. Often we were robbed while working during the day which was why we took to travelling at night.
*****
That was when we saw it, that incredible star in the sky. We’d never seen it before. We thought it might have been something outside the range of our own maps, but we checked and all the other constellations were in their right places. But there was no accounting for this star. Now, you need to remember, that although we were considered scientifically advanced for our age, we were not like the deductive scientist of yours. To us, your scientists look to the skies and see fiery balls of gases spinning around magnetic orbits. We look to the skies and see mystery and wonder and order brought out of chaos, by the very hand of God. The skies spoke to us. We believed that the sky is the doorway to Heaven. The sky opened to us a world of angels and spirits and we certainly believed that this star was sent to us by the Creator to guide us in finding this spirit of truth and light.
That’s another important point, God being active in our lives. God inhabited no distance from ourselves. God was one who traveled with God’s people. That’s an important part of this story. Remember it well.
*****
Well, the rest of story is pretty much as it is told. We followed the star into Judea. There we were invited into the court of your great King. Something didn’t seem quite right from the get-go with this guy because we couldn’t figure out why your King was asking we outsiders to explain to him his own prophesy. It was quite obvious he had priests and theologians by the scores to do this. But when we met him we knew. The spirit of untruth and darkness was so very strong within him.
We told him what he wanted to hear just to get out of there.
*****
Yes, the star led us, but sorry to say, not to Bethlehem but to Nazareth, and not to a stable. It would have been a good story, wouldn’t it? Lowly shepherds and great Kings all bending a knee to this newborn Messiah. Your preachers would talk about that one for years. In fact, however, the child was well over a year old before we met him. We never did meet any shepherds. His parents had been staying with relatives in a small house. When we all arrived we thought we should pay some kind of homage to him. Sorry, there was no chest filled with gold or precious urns filled with expensive oils. We had no such things. We thought however, that this young migrant family could probably use some support, so we emptied all our pockets and bound up what coins we had in a cloth bag. Melchior happened to have some gum resin from an African tree which we would burn because of its wonderful aroma. Frankincense they call it now. And I, Gaspar, had just cut some gum resin from a Near Eastern tree which not only smells nice but is very waxy and makes a good bandage for cuts and scrapes. I thought a young mother could use this raising a boy. And that was it. That was all there was to the story, except for the fact that when we entered that home, we were overwhelmed by a spirit of grace and love, wonder and hope, by people who felt the hand of God on their lives. They had nothing, but rather than harbouring spirits of poverty, their lives were filled with hope, joy, peace and love. These people were truly blessed. They opened the door widely to us, to people they knew as pagans they invited us in, showed us wonderful, but simple hospitality. They accepted our meager gifts as if they were the riches treasures in the world. Even bouncing this boy on our knee made us know that we were in the presence of the spirit of truth and light. They were so deeply appreciative that we had traveled so far, had believed in a star, recognized their child as Messiah when many of their own had rejected them.
******
And that’s pretty much our story. Sorry if it disillusions you but I wanted you to know that this is a story of ordinary people, no different than you, that this story could happen in your own lives. There are truths to be told here that still apply today. Never spend your lives looking down at your own boots. Don’t disregard the appearance of truth and light just because it doesn’t come in your theological boot size. Look up, past human borders and towns. Look up and see the wonder and mystery of God and allow that to direct you. Allow the voice of God to be heard from wherever you are.
I know you now live in a time not much different than my own. We keep track of these things in heaven. I know you live in a time when the spirit of untruth and darkness seems to be everywhere. Fear surrounds you. Your environment is collapsing. You fear rising waters levels, toxic gases, smothering plastics, and natural disasters that have grown out of portion. I understand the fear associated with your own fragile mortality. People we love get sick. Some can’t afford medical care. Outbreaks of infectious diseases. even measles is back on the rise. A life which just doesn’t seem fair for so many. All this, while living in a world where so few hold so much power and wealth just like the kings of our day. People die of hunger while mountains of wasted food lie in landfills. People live in mansions while their brothers and sisters shiver in the streets. There seems to be so much injustice caused by the spirit of untruth and darkness and your leaders seem hesitant to confront any of it for fear of losing their power.
If nothing else, let our story become your story, a story of hope.
Know, that even something as powerful as tyrant’s fear, cannot stop the spirit of truth and light from being born right there in the midst of the darkest night. I know I am at outsider to you. But believe me when I say that, if this journey taught me anything, it taught me that. There is always a light in the midst of the darkness. They call them stars.
My name is Gaspar and that is my story.

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