Thursday, December 13, 2012

Magi Monologues

The plan for Epiphany Day Worship on January 6 (which happens to be a Sunday this year) is to have three monologues intertwined with the verses of We Three Kings.  After some internet searching (and lamenting the apparent loss of a document I used to have that I could have used as the basis for the monologues) into traditions about the Magi, here are those monologues [courtesy of a lot of creative license]:

Melchior's Story: (Gold --1st) (Persia)
Hello. My name is Melchior. I brought the gold to offer to the child.

I came from the land of Persia. I was not a king as your song suggests. None of us were in fact. We. sometimes advised kings. We sometimes advised those who struggled against kings.

Maybe you would call me a priest? Maybe you would call me an astrologer? I spent my days studying the world and the stars, looking for signs about what would happen. For centuries my ancestors have done just that. We believe that the sky gives us information about what is happening and what will happen both in our homeland and in places far away. It is one of the ways the Creator of the World speaks to us.

Anyway, back to the story at hand.

One night I was taking my regular readings of the sky when something highly unusual caught my eye. A new light in the sky. Quickly I consulted my charts and could find nothing explaining it. So I studied it closely. I watched how it interacted with the other stars in the sky. And soon it was obvious to me that something spectacular was about to happen. The star signified a royal birth. And everything about it suggested it was to happen in the land of the Jews. I needed to learn more.

As it happens there is a tradition in my family that we have a connection to the people of Jerusalem. Many years ago the Babylonians conquered that city and took captives. One of those was a young man named Daniel. He rose high in the esteem of the Babylonian Royal Court, then when my Persian ancestors conquered the Babylonians this same Daniel moved into the service of the Persian King. It is a tradition in my family that Daniel was one of us, that he was in the same group of advisors that we are. For all I know I could be one of his descendants! Because of this we had in our records many writings from the Jewish land. I quickly consulted those to see what I could learn.

At any rate I quickly sent messages to my colleagues in other lands, telling them what I had seen and learned. Something this important required that we gave a reply of some sort. We had to go and see in person this thing that had happened.

While I was waiting for an answer from my friends I began to prepare to travel. A king had been born. I needed to take a proper gift, so I obtained a large casket of gold, a truly regal gift.

Caspar's Story (Frankincense --2nd) (India)
My name is Caspar, a scholar from one of the kingdoms in that part of the world you now call India. I brought frankincense to offer the child.

Like my friend Melchior I study the night skies for signs and warnings and news. When I too saw the strange new light in the sky I wondered what it would be. As I am still young and inexperienced I asked my mentors what they saw. But they had no idea what this new sign was. All they could tell me was that it was something of great importance. After asking every wise man in the kingdom I knew that I had only one other choice.

To the West in Persia was Melchior. Far older than I and much more learned. Quickly I gathered my servants and a small armed escort and started on my way to consult with him. I had barely started out when a messenger from Melchior met me on the road. We made camp and shared a meal together. After the meal I asked him what message he had brought with him. After I had heard it I could not wait any longer. Early the next morning we broke camp and I hastened to meet with Melchior to discuss this news.

When I arrived at his palace I found him preparing to leave. After we had feasted together I asked him to show me the old Jewish writings he had in his records. I spent an entire night and the whole next day poring over them, pausing only to compare my understandings with Melchior. What I found amazed me!

That next night Melchior and I went up to his observation gallery and watched the night sky again. The light had changed slightly. I looked at Melchior and said “It is done. The child is born.” Melchior said nothing, only nodded in agreement.

While we watched I took some more measurements and consulted the notes I had made. “There is more here than the birth of a king,” I said. “My reading of these signs says that God has come to dwell on Earth.”

At that very moment we decided that we would leave the next day. So in the morning we gathered our servants and Melchior called on his apprentices to join us. And with a larger armed escort we set out.

As we travelled we discussed what gifts would be most appropriate to take to the child. Knowing that many cultures burn incense in God's presence I knew what I needed. And so at the next city I sent my most trusted servant out to buy a large quantity of frankincense, so to honour the Child who was God in human form.

Balthazar's Story: (Myrrh -- 3rd) (Arabia)
My name is Balthazar. I come from Arabia and brought Myrrh to lay at the feet of the child.

When the first messenger from Melchior arrived I was stunned. How could I have missed such a sign? How could I have not heard about such things happening in the land of my brothers?

For we are brothers you know? We Arabs and the Jews. We in Arabia count ourselves as the descendants of Ishmael, the firstborn of Abraham, the elder brother of Isaac. But alas, from the time of our shared ancestor we have been at odds with our brothers. But I digress.

I spent many hours mulling over the message I had received, wondering what it might mean. I searched the writings we had in our records, I stared at the night sky, I spent time in deep meditation. What should I do?

Then a second messenger came. Melchior had been joined by Caspar from farther East. They were certain that the child was born. Even more they were sure it was more than a human king that had been born, that God had come to Earth. I resolved then and there to join them in their quest to see the child. So I gathered my own servants and a small escort and went to meet them on the road.

In addition to my scholarship I have been blessed with the gift of interpreting dreams. And it was a dream that influenced my choice of gift. My heart carried deep foreboding that this child would some day be killed. And so I gathered together a large supply of Myrrh, a burial spice.

After I joined my fellow travellers we continued to the most logical place to go looking for the new King of the Jews. We went to Jerusalem. We were quite a large entourage by this time, with many armed men as an escort. The people around the King were clearly unsure what to make of us.

While we were there our compatriots, men who also studied the ancient writings and the signs of the times looked into their traditions and told us that we were close to our goal. Bethlehem was where we wanted to go. So it was that we took our leave of the Jewish King and finished out journey.

After we had paid our homage to the child and presented our gifts we made ready to return to our homes. Melchior and Caspar had promised the Jewish King that we would tell him where the child was to be found. Foolish men. They had obviously not heard about the Herod. In Arabia we had heard about how jealous and violent and murderous he was. Then I was warned in a dream. If we told Herod where the child was the child would die. Once I told this to my fellows the choice was obvious. We bypassed Jerusalem and went home by a different road.

Strangely, many years later, I heard stories about a preacher who was thought to be God in human form. He was executed but his followers claimed that he had been risen from the dead. As I investigated the stories I am sure this man Jesus was the same child we visited all those years before. Of him it was said that once people met him they could not follow the same path any longer. They too had to follow a different road.

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