Gifts for a Baby King
At the time of his birth, the Light of the world was acknowledged by only a handful of worshipers: a bedazzled congregation of shepherds and two pious souls, long watching and waiting for him in the temple.
A bit later, coming “from the East,” the first Gentile worshipers of Christ arrived, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy that the Redeemer of Israel would be a light for the nations. These astrologers had seen a light in the sky that testified to the advent of the Light of the world. An eager expedition ensued, with the intention of paying homage to a new King. Their arrival in Judea is the first empirical evidence of the universal and global significance of a very particular and local event.
Since about the fourth century, in the Western church, the Feast of the Epiphany has commemorated the testimony implicit in the journey of the Magi, and a great deal of music has emerged from that attention. In Western churches, Epiphany has also included a celebration of Christ’s baptism and the first miracle at the wedding at Cana as well as the visit of the Magi. (In Eastern churches, Epiphany focuses on the baptism as the shining forth of God’s Trinitarian presence, as the Son assents to his humanity, the Father announces his pleasure at the Son, and the Spirit descends in the form of a symbol of peace.)
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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