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Pagans and Christmas

With the holidays around the corner, it's time to wrap things up for the year. We're really excited about #NZCMS as we're wanting to get a dialogue happening with young adults - you know, since you're the future leaders of the church and mission! So thanks for being part of it this year, and we hope this experiment will become something really useful in the future. In the new years we hope to develop this further and find ways of inviting more people into the conversation - prayers, thoughts and suggestions are most certainly welcome!

Until then, here's a Christmas reflection from a friend, Noah Cremisino. (The original can be found here.)

 

The other morning while flipping pancakes I got to thinking about “the star”. You know, the one that hung over the manger where “little-baby-Jesus” was born? I was struck by the fact that a band of Iranian magician-astrologers were lead to Jesus by tracking a mass of burning gas in outer space.

Now, I know it’s not your average breakfast prep topic, but it hit me in a way that it never had before… the “Three Wise Men” were not a bunch of tame, sheet-wearing, camel-riding FedEx men delivering presents in a cute children’s story, but rather were intense and ritualistic magicians deeply engrained in pagan star-reading, celestial interpretation and fortune-telling - I doubt the 700 Club would be having them on for an interview.

We’ve become so accustomed to the story of “The 3 Wise Men and the Christmas Star” that we can easily overlook their gritty profiles, as well as the historical significance of their journey across Iraq and Syria to Bethlehem. I don’t know about you, but I don’t typically picture the wise men as being a bunch of self-mutilating pagan magicians who spend their evenings gazing at the stars in hopes of unlocking the signs of the times, but that may be exactly who these guys were. In fact, these folks were neither Jews, no Greeks, but most likely Zoroastrians from the area that is currently Iran.

The Zoroastrians were (are still) an interesting bunch. They believed in one God (Ahura Mazda) “the Lord of light and wisdom”. They had their eye out for a guy they called Saoshyant – a “messiah” of sorts (the greatest and the final in a series of three). They believed this man would appear at the end of time to bring renovation to the world, raise the dead, and to lead humanity into the final battle against falsehood. It was prophesied that the Saoshynat was to be born of a “maiden” via an immaculate conception (bathing in a lake that contained the “seed” of their prophet Zoroaster himself) and that he would begin his decisive battle against evil at the age of 30.

This, of course, all sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?

The interest thing is that what started out as a collection of pagan astrologers in Iran watching the stars and anticipating a Zoroastrian savior suddenly intersected with the nice, tame, baby-Jesus story in an incredible turn of events… demonstrating in a unique way that Jesus is not just the savior of the Jews, but of the whole world.

What struck me most of all was the simple fact that the God of the universe used a ball of burning gas several million miles away to direct a band of astrologers on a thousand-mile trek across the desert to worship Jesus.

 

Which leads me to my question…

If God can draw a crew of camel-riding pagans to Jesus through a star and Zoroastrian prophecy – how might he be drawing you?

What is the “star” that will lead you to Jesus this Christmas?

 

THE MUSE

What do you think? How is God drawing you in this Christmas?

 

THE MOVE

The star led these pagans to Jesus. Later on Jesus said "you are the light of the world." Are there 'pagans' around you this Christmas? Maybe God wants you to be the 'star' for them...?