“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield. Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you” (Psalm 33:20-22).
I’ve always loved Christmas pageants. My little church in north Alabama always reenacted the Christmas story. The cast of actors changed every year as children outgrew the angel costumes made from coat hangers and tinsel, and shepherd costumes made from old bathrobes. The role of Mary and Joseph was passed down to new parents whose baby might lie quietly in the manger with Mom nearby. However, the three wise men never changed: my uncle Spencer, Herbert Gay, and my dad, because singing “We Three Kings” was a requirement of the part and no one else could carry a tune in a bucket.
So it is not too surprising that my favorite characters in the Christmas story are the wise men, riding camels in regal robes to see the baby with the most impractical baby gifts. I can imagine Mary thinking, “What in the world will we do with these things?” Oh, I learned about the symbolism of the gifts, but some of those symbols likely would have been lost on Mary at that point. But then someone suggested perhaps these gifts were God’s provisions to fund the family’s flight to Egypt to escape Herod. After Joseph’s dream where the angel told him to flee, I imagine him realizing what perfect gifts these strange packages were. So that is how I choose to view the wise men, the conduit God used to provide for Joseph and his family. And this is the source of my joy, because I know that God is still in the providing business today.