Friday, January 6, 2012

The Star-Struck Magi

The 6th of January, Epiphany, is a day that is sometimes not associated with the Christmas holidays, (unless you are Puerto Rican). I was born and spent my childhood in Puerto Rico where El Día de los Reyes (Three King's Day) is just as important as Christmas. Traditionally, this was the day of gift-giving while Christmas was a religious holiday.

But of course Epiphany is not only celebrated in Puerto Rico. This year my school's annual drama performance was a rendition of "Twelfth Night" by Shakespeare. Twelfth night is another name for Epiphany, as it is the twelfth night after Christmas. This play was first performed on the celebration of Twelfth Night in Elizabethan England, hence the name.

So Epiphany is the day when people celebrate the arrival of the Magi to Bethlehem. It isn't the same as Christmas because they came approximately two years after Jesus' birth, when his star had appeared in the sky. That means that they did not come the same night as the shepherds, and they did not come to a stable (as many nativity scenes would have us believe).

Something one must ask though is what on earth were Magi doing in Bethlehem? Historically, Magi were priests of Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion. They were known for being magicians who had the ability to interpret omens and dreams and offered sacrifices to the stars and planets. They were sort of astrologers because they were said to keep watch from generation to generation for a star that would appear and indicate the arrival of a savior. In any case, they certainly weren't Jewish. So how could the star they followed to their Savior have been the same Messiah that had been promised to the Jews?

A star is, after all, just a ball of burning gas far, far away from the earth. How could it guide people? I don't know much about stars, but I know that if you started to follow one, you would be led in circles as it traveled from east to west and then back again the next day. So how were the Magi able to follow a star all the way to Bethlehem? Moreover, how did it stop and stay right over Joseph and Mary's house?

We know little about the Magi who left their comfortable lives to go to Bethlehem. Savior or not, it's still a pretty crazy thing to do. It's not like there was a paved, six-lane highway from Persia to Judah. Their journey shows that they were truly devoted to God and to this Savior that had come to the world, so much that they were ready to go wherever that star led so that they could worship him.

Jesus Christ came as a baby to be the Savior of all nations and peoples and races on earth. The Magi are a clear representation of this wonderful fact. "There is no difference between Jews and Gentiles; God is the same Lord of all and richly blesses all who call to him." (Romans 10:12)

The God who created a star to guide the Magi all the way to the Savior and made it stop above him, is the same God who calls each and every one of us "go" and to let our going be an act of worship to him.  He is the same God who, long ago, slid off of his mother's lap to touch a huge heavy jeweled box with his tiny hands and looked up as rich kings with long beards and flowing robes knelt before him in worship.


Written by Christa Troester

Baboua, Central African Republic


Photo: Hand-carved Wise Men from Bouar, Central African Republic, photographed in front of traditional Cameroonian indigo-dyed cotton fabric.


Christa Troester attends Ninth Grade at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Her parents, Joe and Deborah are ELCA missionaries in Baboua, the Central African Republic. Joe serves as technical advisor for PASE, which provides clean drinking water and promotes good hygiene and sanitation to villagers. Pastor Deborah teaches at the Theological School in Baboua.



  1. I loved this because we're just discussing that point of how and why they followed the star and you explained things for my children far better than I! Thank You!

  2. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favour:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Central African Republic? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Central African Republic in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and a original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Calle Valencia, 39 Bajo C
    28903 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog, where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely