I collect nativities and keep many on display all year long. I enjoy the reminder of the wonder and mystery of God becoming incarnate, of Jesus, the Creator, the King, born in an obscure village to poor parents. When I consider the birth of Jesus, I wonder which person I would respond most like – hopefully not the innkeeper who failed to recognize the opportunity right in front of him. Instead. I would hope to respond like the shepherds who quickly hastened to follow the sign from heaven, seeking and finding the Christ.
I never really connected to the Magi, the elite of their society with resources to make an incredible journey seeking truth. Then I came across a story by Henry Van Dyke originally published in 1895. Since it is available free through public domain, I hope you will take time to read it. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/10679/10679-h/10679-h.htm
Mr. Van Dyke chronicles the journey of another wiseman. He is delayed joining the others because stops to help someone in need. Even so, he doesn’t give up, but continues the pilgrimage to arrive in Bethlehem only to find he has missed the One to whom the star was pointing. Along the way this seeker is interrupted by many, yet he takes time to assist those who cross his path as he searches for the promised King. This wise man enters Jerusalem just in time to purchase the freedom of a young girl being sold into slavery, but not in time to see the Messiah before He was crucified.
I feel like that character. Every day, I get interrupted and detoured by little things. I say, “no” to seemingly “exciting” or “fulfilling” things so I can say, “yes” to the people closest to me. Like the pilgrim, I arrive at what I perceived was the goal too late or never at all.
This wise man dies saddened that he was never a part of the big events, never reaching his quest, yet as he enters heaven, the one He was searching for joyously welcomes him. Jesus astounds him by saying, “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Many keep the path, but will not reach the goal;
Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul,
While he who walks in love may wander far,
Yet God will bring him where the blessed are. Henry Van Dyke