One of the most evocative elements of the nativity story is the visit of the Magi described in Matthew’s Gospel. Some people think this episode is an insertion – a purely symbolic event that emphasises Jesus’ royal authority. But I think that if God exists, and his Son was born into his own creation, the story of the Magi makes sense.

It was common in Jesus’ day for people to believe that special stars heralded the birth of certain individuals. Magi did also sometimes act as diplomats, travelling to meet foreign rulers. It would have been unusual for them to travel so far west in response to a star – but perhaps they would have done so on a very special occasion.

This article is one in a series (Connecting with Culture) from the the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity.

 

The Magi were likely to be priests from Babylonia or Persia. They observed the stars, making astrological predictions based on what they saw. While astrology is certainly not science, the Magi displayed some characteristics that are beneficial among scientists today, including open-mindedness and tenacity. It is traits like these that have enabled scientists around the world to produce completely new vaccines – including the novel RNA ones – in record time.

God often used people from other nations, including the kings of Babylon in Daniel’s time, to accomplish his purposes. In a similar way, God used these people’s study of the stars to honour his Son’s birth. The Magi were willing to follow this star wherever it led, eventually paying their respects to a child in a very ordinary home – a far cry from the palace in Jerusalem where they expected to find him.

If the Magi were alive today, they might have been astronomers. From media stories about conflict between science and religion, and even debates among some Christians, we could easily think that these are some of the least likely people to find God. But a scientist’s drive to follow the data – especially historic, biblical, and experiential data in this context – has led some scientists I know to find God.

Perhaps there are people in your life who you assume wouldn’t want to talk about Jesus? A first-century Jewish audience might have thought the same about Eastern astrologers, but it seems they defied expectations. This Christmas, do we need to be a bit more open-minded ourselves, and ready to welcome those who have been on unexpected journeys in 2020?

Ruth Bancewicz
Church Engagement Director at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Cambridge

This article is one in a series (Connecting with Culture) from the the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity.

 
 
 

Personal Bible Study

 

study300

NEW FOR 2021

Curious to learn more about Jesus either by yourself or with others? Visit our Personal Study page. Each week we'll be adding some personal study material to go through. It'll include a brief audio message, a short video and a section of your Bible to read. No Bible? Click here for one on our site.

This material is provided by our friends at BibleProject.

 bibleprojectlogo

 

prayerposter

Sign up for our news

Complete this form to receive our regular mailings.

Like or Share our FB page

KBC

Latest News

Baptist Union of Great Britain latest news

Baptist Times latest news

BMS World Mission - see in right column

World Watch Monitorreports the story of Christians around the world under pressure for their faith.

You're welcome

We hope you enjoy what you see and make use of some of our resources. And if you'd like to get to know us we'd love to hear from you. Use our contact form. In more normal times we meet at 10.15am at Keyworth Junior School on Nottingham Road, Keyworth. Here's a map of our location.

Policies

Here's our Data Protection policy

We put the safeguarding of children, young people and adults at risk first.

Here's our Safeguarding policy.

Contact Us

Please send your correspondence to the church secretary. Here are the contact details. Use the handy web form for your message. If you want a response remember to give us your email address.

PHOTO CREDITS
Slideshow shots by Ben White on Unsplash