"On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage." - Matthew 2:11
Many years ago, I bought a nativity set for a few dollars at a Unitarian church rummage sale. All of its figures were thrown in a paper bag. When I got them home, I discovered there were five Wise Men, an extra baby Jesus, and no Joseph. There was a sheep twice the size of the camel. Nevertheless, every year I set it up, using a spare Wise Man as Joseph.
Today is Epiphany, when we celebrate the Magi visiting the infant Jesus. As the Scriptures tell it, the three Wise Men did not visit the baby Jesus on the night of his birth and were never there in the stable amidst the hay with the camels and the sheep. They actually came to Jesus' house later on. All of our nativity sets are wrong. Not just mine.
Most of the time, getting the details right is important. But sometimes it just doesn't matter. Sometimes you can have all the right parts in all the right places at all the right times, and still ... something is wrong. Especially at Christmas, when so many work so hard to make things just right.
That's why many people are relieved this week. Now we can get back to regular, imperfect life, with its mismatched or missing people, places, and things. Now is when the Wise Men come to see Jesus, the Savior of the world.
Thank God there's more than one way to be right. Amen.
Christina Villa is Philanthropy/Communications Consultant at The Pension Boards-United Church of Christ, New York, NY.