Was your nativity scene correct?
What about the children’s Christmas play or the church’s “Live Nativity?” No, it’s really not a big deal if you had the “wise men” (or magi) involved on Christmas Eve, but historically speaking chances are pretty good that those guys didn’t show up until later. Reread Matthew chapter 2 and really pay attention to the details. With it saying that Jesus was “in a house” and the fact that Herod had a vendetta against 2 year-olds, it could have been a few years after the manger scene before the wise men managed to track down Jesus. And how many guys were there? Does it say 3 anywhere? Those 3 gifts could have been brought by less or perhaps many more people.
Again, it’s not worth getting upset over when the wise men actually arrived, but it is helpful to understand why we celebrate Epiphany on January 6th (or the Sunday before or after the 6th). In short, we commemorate the wise men’s encounter with Jesus to recognize the significance of what God did at Christmas. It is our chance to experience our own “ah ha!” (epiphany) moments, reaffirming and reconsidering the amazing act of God becoming flesh and walking among us as Jesus.
So when next Advent rolls around, it might be worth having conversations about the presence of the wise men with those who coordinate the festivities and decorations. Just please don’t mention my name when you do so.
Thanks for looking, and Happy New Year!