Sunday, January 06, 2013
The Jeopardy answer is "this magnificent Christian Cathedral in Europe is dedicated to Zoroastrian priests" The question is "what is Cologne Cathedral?" Alex. These Zoroastrian priests are the Magi or Wise Men to those of who are Christians, and we have claimed them as our own. But 2000+ years ago they didn't set out from ancient Persia (modern-day Iran) to become part of a religion which didn't yet exist. They were reading the signs and portents as astrologers/astronomers, and the story which is found only in Matthew's gospel says that they eventually found their way to a toddler who might be the Messiah, the Promised One of scripture.
Cologne Cathedral is a marvel of architecture which has survived eight hundred years even though it nearly bit the onion during the Allied bombing during WWII. Visiting the cathedral was the highlight of my visit to this historic city, and I was taken by the devotional objects dedicated to the magi, including the shrine which is purported to hold the remains of the Wise Guys.
Um, I wouldn't bank on that one, but it is fascinating that they captured the imagination in this way --hey "magi" is right there in the word imagination. Definition of imagination:
The faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses: "a vivid imagination"
The ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful.
I really love the exotic and mystical nature of the quest of the magi. I figure that part of the reason for the decline of our Christian religion in North America is that it has become so safe, so conventional. Often we are more like club members than a band of adventurers. Even though I have been doing this ministry vocation for a long time I fret that I am more like an activity director at that club than the one who says "let's press on toward the horizon!" We might think "better safe than sorry"in the ways we go about being part of Christ's church, but we become rather sorry when we just play it safe.
Today is Magi Day, in that January 6th is the Day of the Epiphany. We won't use the magi reading in worship today, but I will be imagining those intrepid sojourners.