The Headless Magi   9 comments

Last week we unpacked our old nativity scene from it’s wrinkle of wadded up paper and bubblewrap.  The set looked a little bedraggled from its journey across two states–the straw was mostly gone, the thatched manger roof was now bare wood, and one of the magi had lost his head.  Kimberly laid out each figure along with the headless wiseman, severed head at his feet.  After setting up and decorating the Christmas tree, I suggested that Kimberly take a picture for Facebook, which she did, forgetting the macabre detail until we had posted it.


No one would purposely screw up their Christmas decorations–stringing up lights with half of them burned out or hanging up broken ornaments–anymore than they would go to the Christmas eve service with a torn shirt.  We sing songs about a perfect baby Jesus (“no crying he makes”), and we sanitize the manger as though it was not a place where dirty, smelly animals kicked up the straw with their poop-coated hooves.  Like any birth, there was blood and muck and probably some screaming in pain from the bedraggled unwed teenager from Nazareth.

When we sanitize Christianity, make it respectable, middle-class, comfortable, we lose the radical message of the grace that is offered to those who have nothing to offer.  When we lose touch with our own spiritual poverty and the anguish of the world around us, our message is distorted.  The gospel of Christ is a bloody affair from the cradle to the cross, and we are called to that same suffering, our own and redemptively for others.  Some face this season without loved ones or with new diagnoses, with intolerable pain or lost hope.  My deepest sympathies are with you.  Let us live into the realness, the wholeness of Christmas, not just the angels and magi, but the blood of the innocents.  As one author challenged us: “Keep Herod in Christmas!”


Posted December 5, 2016 by janathangrace in Uncategorized

9 responses to “The Headless Magi

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  1. Thanks for a genuine and thoughtful post Janathan!! Christmas greetings!!
    Best wishes !!
    Pat Major

  2. Pravo! Now this what you are best at…..preaching the truth! Don’t allow your inner struggles to distract you but rather be used to bring God’s Word alive to a STARVING and DIEING world!

  3. Personally, with the current DRAMA going on in America I kindof think you would do well living in California or Oregon where the millinials (sp?) are confused and lost! Think about it!? You could start a openforum type gathering where REALITY is discussed. We have the ANSWER to this world’s problems! We know that when one digs deep enough into it we find that WHO JESUS IS and WHAT HE DID ultimately brings meaning to our struggles as well as the worlds struggles. HE IS THE REASON AND HE IS OUR “ANSWER”!

  4. Thank you for the thoughtful post…
    I agree that we sanitize Christianity… we make it user-friendly, palatable.
    We strip it of its power to revolutionize our lives and the world we live in.

  5. I’m glad that the real Magi kept their heads, though, Herod would have liked it otherwise.

    Yes, the joys of Christmas are, sadly, often the griefs of Christmas for many… loved ones dying or who have died in this season, poverty, pain, and other sorrows. I hope I can alleviate someone’s pain and sorrow this season.

    • The church I attend actually held a special service for those who are suffering during this season. I’m glad you are sensitive to those who find this season especially difficult.

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