We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.
Matthew 2:2 NLT
God chose Mary. The angel Gabriel has a chat with Joseph too, and great hordes of angels appear to the shepherds. They’re all directly contacted and ushered into the Christmas story. The wise men are a little different. They’re unexpected visitors. They bring themselves.
Let’s assume that when the new star appeared in the sky, the wise men weren’t the only ones who could see it. Whether it was a comet or a supernova or something unknown to science, anyone could have looked at that section of the night sky and seen it there.
Despite the traditional Christmas card pictures, perhaps we can also assume that the star wasn’t a huge four-pointed fireball hanging right over Bethlehem. If it was, the Christmas story might include panicked crowds fleeing the city, thinking the world was ending. The Gospel writers would have mentioned that if it had happened, so presumably our Christmas star was something more discreet.
The wise men see it because they’re astronomers. They watch the skies. They track the movements of the planets. They read what they see there and try to work out what it means. If something new appears in the sky, they notice.
The Christmas story is for everyone. The angel choir tells us that it is good news for all humankind. But not all of humankind is paying attention to the signs. The wise men are, and they get to be among the first to meet the newborn Jesus.
“Search, and you will find” Jesus would later say. “Knock, and the door will be open for you.” That invitation still stands. We may not get an angel visitor, but we can read the signs, we can follow our curiosity. We can search for God in the world around us.
God is there to be found.
True meaning and purpose are there to be found.
And when we stumble upon the place and knock on the door, we find it is already open. We are welcome, and not so unexpected after all.