Do the wise men belong in the nativity? If I set aside my rebellion, there is also a bit of theological snobbery here. I claim scriptural authority in exiling the wise men from Jesus’ nativity – but is the impact more far-reaching than these little figurines? What are the rules for being included at the nativity? And who gets to set them?
People will come from east and west, north and south, and sit down to eat in God’s kingdom. – Luke 13:29 (CEB)
Like the table at the Lord’s Supper, Jesus’ nativity doesn’t belong to me or anyone else. Jesus said that people would come from north and south, east and west but he didn’t say they would all come at once. And Jesus didn’t say that those who came late would get the leftovers and scraps from those who were “on time.” So why won’t I let the wise men join the party?
This makes me wonder who else I deem not worthy to part of Jesus’ nativity. Does it matter at what point in the story we find Jesus as long as we find our way to the nativity? Is there any time it can actually be too late to arrive?
Do my exclusions – and exiles – go beyond the nativity to extend to font and table?
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:10-12 (NRSV)
Heaven declared that Jesus’ birth was good news of great joy for all people. So who am I to say that anyone who has heard that good news could ever come too late? Shouldn’t I just be thankful that I heard the invitation and found my way at all? I should be like the shepherds who couldn’t believe that they were invited and go on to tell everyone they see the amazing things that God has done.
Jesus doesn’t need to be protected by my theological snobbery. Instead, I should probably just give up my good seat at the foot of the manger to whoever comes next because someone else already gave it up for me. There is always room at the manger, the cross, the font and the table for one more. Like Motel 6, God keeps the light on for us. I may need to let the wise men out of exile.