In San Diego we had a lighted signboard in front of our church, on which we would put pithy sayings; sometimes from scripture, sometimes personal notes (following 9/11 for example), and sometimes just sayings that people would bring into the office. One that jumps out at me was what we’d put up for Epiphany: WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM. What a true statement. It is the wise who continue to seek the Christ, the foolish who abandon the quest, and the evil who oppose those who do seek him.
Of course, this sentiment is not new – we can look back from the beginning of the church and read about the quest for Jesus and the meaning of the Wise Men from the East. Recently I read this from Lancelot Andrews, written in the sixteenth century:
There Came Wise Men from the East
These that came from the East were Gentiles, and that matters to us, for so are we. We may then look out and if we can see this star, it is ours. It is the Gentiles' star. We may set our course by it, to seek and find and worship him as well as they. So we come in, for God has also to the Gentiles set open a door of faith, and that he would do this and call us in, there was some small star-light from the beginning. This he promised by the Patriarchs, shadowed forth in the figures of the Law, the Tabernacle and the Temple, the Prophets and the Psalms, and it is this day fulfilled.
These wise men are come who not only in their own names but also in ours make here their entry. They came and sought after and found and worshiped their Savior and ours, the Savior of the whole world. A little wicket there was left open before, whereby various Gentiles did come in; now the great gate set wide opens this day for all -- for these here with their camels and dromedaries to enter with all they carry. Christ is not only for russet cloaks, shepherds and such; but even grandees, those of great states such as these came, and when they came they were welcome to him -- for they were sent for and invited by this star, their star properly.
They came a long journey and they came an uneasy journey. They came a dangerous journey and they came now, at the worst season of the year. They delayed not their coming till the opening of the year, till they might have better weather and way and have longer days and so more seasonable and fit to travel in. So desirous were they to come with the first, and to be there as soon as they possibly might, that they broke through all these difficulties, and behold, they did come.
And we, what excuse shall we have if we come not? If so short and easy a way we come not, as from our chambers hither? And these wise men never were a whit less wise for so coming; nay, to come to Christ is one of the wisest parts that ever these wise men did. And if they and we be wise in one Spirit, we will follow the same star, tread the same way, and so come at last whither they they are happily gone before us.
And how shall we do that? In the old ritual of the Church we find that on the cover of the canister wherein was the sacrament of his Body, there was a star engraven, to show us that now the star leads us thither, to his Body there. So what shall I sat now, but according as St John says, and the star and the wise men say Come. And he whose star it is, and to whom the wise men came, says Come. And let them that are disposed Come and let whosoever desires take the Bread of life which came down from heaven to Bethlehem, the house of bread. Of which Bread the Church is this day the house, the true Bethlehem, and all the Bethlehem we have now left to come to for the Bread of life -- of that life we hope for in heaven. And this is our nearest coming that here we can come, till we shall by another coming Come unto him in his heavenly kingdom. To which he grant we may come, he that came to us in earth that we thereby might come to him and remain with him forever, Jesus Christ the Righteous.
Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)