Audio of this sermon can be found on SoundCloud here)
“Wise women also came, seeking no directions, no permission from any king. They came by their own authority, their own desire, their own longing.” — Jan Richardson
The Magi came from the east in the time of King Herod and asked, where is the one born king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star and we have come to worship him.
This is without a doubt on of the most electrifying passages of the Christian Scriptures. Today, it’s become a common story associated with peaceful night visitors and a warm barn with cute animals like fuzzy lambs and cheerful donkeys.
But if the three Magi — a word that also means dream weaver, gift bearer and king maker — had spoken today it would sound something like this: The three unstoppable founders of Black Lives Matter, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors have seen a tweet reshared thousands of times from the Eastern lands of prophetic uprising known as Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, and St. Louis.
On the information of this micro-missive they are traveling even now, in this time of terror instigated by a King of the Bullies across a land full of people who do not want to hear the prophecy these women are carrying, which is this: We are seeking one born Senator of the undocumented strawberry picker immigrants of central California. We have seen the tweet about Her, and we have come to give Her our gifts. And do not forget, they say, that it was mere tweets which started a spring revolution not so long ago in a land not so far away.
In other words the Magi both ancient and modern say; we are unafraid, you cannot scare us tyrants of earth, for God’s language is one of light, and She speaks to us with as little as a tweet or a star. Just this small light in all that cold outer space is enough hope for us, for hope is a delicate thing but a thing meant to grow nonetheless.
I also want you to know today that there is nothing special or extraordinary about being a Magi. Based on historical evidence and a close study of the Roman world at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the three Magi were likely religious monastics from the Zoroastrian faith east of Bethlehem. The spiritual gifts they bore were good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, represented by gold from the deep earth and frankincense and myrrh from the life-sap of an ancient tree.
They were no more special than any other sacred, incarnated person who listens deeply to the world and seeks to better the human condition through generosity and kindness.
Our modern Magi are no more than women with a deep faith in the goodness of humanity and our ability to change even/especially in the midst of great suffering. Because never forget, as Jan Richardson reminds us, that wise women also came. Which means that neither gender, nor spiritual belief, nor age, nor training can prevent you from fulfilling your role as a magi, if that is who you are called to be.
No matter how deep the night, no matter how dangerous the land you are surrounded by, no matter how terrifying the tyrant who oppresses the people, if you can lift your face to the sky, if you can look for your star, no matter if it comes to you as a tweet, a recipe, a kind act, a news article, a verse from the Bhagavad Gita/Torah/Quran/Sutras/or a single line of Mary Oliver poetry, look east.
Then get up and move towards your star for you too are a Magi, seeking and wise.