Reflections on Matthew 2:1-12
Perhaps one of the most surprising elements of the nativity story is the visit from the magi. These visitors were not Jewish, and they followed astrological signs in their search for a new king, something typically frowned upon in the biblical narrative. Their role in the story is unexpected, but it has something beautiful to teach us about how the expansive joy of Jesus’ birth is good news for all nations.
We aren’t entirely sure where the magi came from or how long their journey was, but as they traveled from “the east,” they came prepared with gifts fit for a king. This wasn’t a hasty flight by night but a planned and intentional journey. The magi traversed borders and dined with kings on their way to find the Messiah, and their search ended with overwhelming joy. They found the child they sought: a promised king who held promises of joy for them as well as for the people of Israel.
Migration has been part of human civilization since the very beginning. While we often focus on the hardships inherent to the migration experience, joy can also be found in these stories. Sometimes human movement is an occasion of growth, opportunity, or reunification with loved ones. Temporary visitors migrate to seek new opportunities, and families immigrate so they can be together once again. Migration spans the spectrum of human experiences: sometimes bringing sorrow, sometimes bringing joy, and many times bringing a little of both.
Modern Migration tie in:
- The magi were not immigrants, but they did have a migration story of sorts as they traveled across nations to discover the long-promised king. In similar fashion, there are people today who migrate temporarily to pursue their dreams or goals. What would inspire you to take a journey like this?
- Similarly, not all immigration stories are those of loss and trauma. Some stories are born out of joy, whether it’s a couple getting married, a family reuniting after years apart, or someone starting a new job. Do you know anyone who migrated or immigrated for one of these reasons? What kind of support do you imagine these individuals would need as they upend their lives, even if for joyous reasons?
A prayer for joy:
We thank you for the joy that you bring to all nations, and for the surprising ways you reveal yourself to those who seek you.
Our imaginations are kindled as we reflect on the magi who sought you across border lines and cultures.
Many of our neighbors have also made courageous and hopeful journeys as they pursue hopes, dreams, and joy in their lives. We pray for your protection and guidance for them, and for moments of joy in their journey.
We lament the brokenness in our immigration system, which often keeps families apart for far too long. We ask for backlogs to be cleared and for separated loved ones to have open paths back to each other.
We pray that those who wait will soon find your overwhelming joy.