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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Advent - 5 days to Christmas

Monday, December 20 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Christmas Kings and suns

Third in a series on a proposal
that Christmas should not be kept

After the last entry, Sallie Covolo requested some clarification, which I attempted to provide. I'm going to review the most pertinent part of that again here, correcting and enhancing it as I see room for improvement, because the original writer whose challenges of the celebration of Christmas launched this series, is not a member of the list where the exchange with Sallie occurred. Sallie asked: "were the three kings really kings or were they wise men, and were they Oriental?"

I've never seen any evidence or even serious argument claiming they were kings in the sense of rulers of territories or peoples. The Bible says we are all prophets (forth-tellers of the Word), priests (mediators in prayer, defending and passing the faith along), and kings (rulers [stewards] of what God has given us).

The magi were most likely astrologers (the Orthodox Christmas carol refers to them as "those who worshipped the stars"), from what is now Iran (and thus coming from the east to Jerusalem and Bethlehem), so yes, they were from the "Orient." They were probably Zoroastrians. This is the only religion referred to in a positive way in the Old Testament other than Judaism, so far as I've ever found; though a tiny group, they still exist (in Iran and India) and are widely considered to be the original monotheists, thus forerunners of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

"Astrologer" didn't have the negative connotation then as it does today, the meaning of "astronomer" being included in "astrologer" then. They were the ones who studied the stars and tried to mine any information and patterns discernible from their "movements" or positions relative to other heavenly bodies. The gifts they brought to give to the infant Jesus were so valuable that they can be assumed to be rich men (not to mention the freedom and means they had to travel afar in pursuit of their studies), so they must have at least "lived" like kings. So only in those senses can they be surmised to be "kings." No Christian group that I know of makes it a "doctrine" that anyone must think them kings. The "We Three Kings" carol is fine, but it must be understood as using the word "king" metaphorically. Yes, definitely, they were wise men.

In the fact that every still-burning "star" is a sun, the sun connection to Christ is reinforced again. In the words of the carol, the wise men: "Were taught by a star to adore Thee, The Sun of Righteousness." As a sun—the only eternal sun—His radiance outshines that of any material created thing.

He, not the star that is our planet's sun, is the light of the world.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

First article in this series | Second

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2002 - 2004

Christmas chuckles

A three-year-old gave this reaction to her Christmas dinner. "I don't like the turkey, but I like the bread he ate."

Advent thought for today

It is, indeed, the season of regenerated feeling—the season for kindling, not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, but the genial flame of charity in the heart.

Washington Irving  

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