Moments of Silence – The House

There are many mysteries around Christ’s birth. One such mystery is the Wise Men and the star they followed. Our next moment of silence involves them.

For our Christmas series this year, we are looking at the moments of silence found in the Christmas narratives. Our first was the moment just before the angels appeared to the shepherds. Our second moment was found in the stable. And our third involves some foreign visitors. These moments of silence shape the story in the same way that silence shapes music.

We don’t know much about the wise men, and much about them in the popular retelling of the Christmas story is incorrect. For instance, we don’t know how many of them there were. Neither do we know their names. Nor did they arrive on Christmas eve with the shepherds. We also don’t know how many days or months elapsed between Christ’s birth and their arrival.

But we do know a few things. They were from the east, probably Persia, which is modern-day Iran. They were non-Jewish, probably astrologers and possibly followers of Zoroaster. They saw a sign in the night sky, understood it to be an important message, and followed it. After some inquiry in Jerusalem, they followed it to a house in Bethlehem.

 Matthew records, “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11, NLT) Our moment of silence is found when the wise men “bowed down and worshiped him.” Matthew’s language seems to indicate something beyond the courtly bowing in the presence of a king. They prostrated themselves on the ground. It feels unplanned, but that is another of the “I don’t know.”

Whether planned or spontaneous, the wise men paused in worship. In some way, God touched them at that moment as He does everyone that humbles themselves in worship before God. Some of my deepest times of worship happen when I am silent. Music and singing may be happening all around me, but taking a few minutes to still my heart seems to open it up to God even more. There’s something very refreshing and healing as we just float along in the moment.

We often think that the greatest gifts of the wise men were gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but their greatest gift was their humble worship. There are many styles of worship; perhaps the one most neglected is soaking quietly in God’s presence.

We don’t know what became of the wise men other than they went home a different way, a way directed by a dream from God instead of the twinkling of a star. But they were seekers, and Jesus promised, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7–8, NLT)

Dale Heinold
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