Jan 3 2018

On wisdom and imagination

Your weekly reflection from Unbound


Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. Throughout the Advent/Christmas season, we’ve offered a special series of reflections on the Sunday readings. This final reflection for The Epiphany of the Lord is from Senior Writer Larry Livingston.

True story. For a while, when I was a child, I thought there was a mysterious land somewhere called Orientar that was ruled by three kings. Despite the unusual structure of their government, the idea made sense to my 6-year-old brain. After all, every Christmas season I’d hear people singing, “We three kings of Orientar…”

Eventually, of course, I figured out that the words were actually “Orient are,” and that it only meant the kings were from the East. But when you’re 6 such things don’t register. I did what any kid that age would do. When information was lacking, my imagination filled in the missing pieces.

The Christian community does that, too. Matthew’s Gospel (the only Biblical source for the Magi story) says precious little about the mysterious visitors from the East who came to see the Christ-child, but that hasn’t stopped us from filling in over the centuries the wondrous legend of Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.

Still, Matthew doesn’t tell us their names, where the visitors came from, how many there were or if they were really kings. We aren’t even told they are men (though I’ve heard it suggested that if the Magi were women, they would have brought more practical baby gifts than frankincense and myrrh!)

Why do you suppose those 270 words from Matthew’s Gospel have so captured our collective imagination? One reason, I believe, is what the story teaches us about true worth.

The Magi represent the epitome of earthly wealth and power, yet they recognize that they need more and are willing to go to great lengths to seek it. They are wise enough to understand that God is found not in the halls of the mighty but in simplicity and humility. In their search for truth they provide a counterpoint to the corrupt King Herod, who sows death in a vain attempt to suppress the grace of God.

But God’s grace wouldn’t be suppressed then, nor is it today. Christ is still found in simplicity and humility, and wise people still travel far and wide to meet him. At Unbound we encourage such encounters and are blessed to bear witness to them every day.

As we end this Christmas season and enter a new year, what story do you want to write in the coming months? Are there missing pieces?

If so, our community would be happy to help you fill them in.

Please pray

Bless us, Lord, as we continue our journey to you. May we have the wisdom to recognize you within our traveling companions and the grace to be fully present to them. May love guide us and hope sustain us. Give us wild imaginations and teach us to be divine storytellers, that we may touch the hearts of all we meet. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.

Larry Livingston

Senior Writer/Editor

Larry has been with Unbound since 2005. He has a background in theology, pastoral ministry and education, and has written for several national publications. Larry, his wife, Kristi, and son, Ben, have three sponsored friends, Alvaro, Maria and Michele.

Leave a Reply

We reserve the right to approve or reject any comment. We do this manually, so you will not see your comment immediately after posting. Read our full comment policy.