I’m passing this along as it gives thought to whom visited this historic Jesus and provides a light touch as well. Magic folks who might be gay—and for what reason? HA! How cute. The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, who wrote the book quoted in this article was my mentor in ministry and my greatest ally. She is now the moderator the Metropolitan Community Churches, of which denomination I am ordained. In the 80s, she and I founded an organization that reached out to the LGBT community who were poor, street or prison bound, or in extreme need of a message of hope in Los Angeles CA. (Jim Becker)
The Magi—A Different Perspective
Yesterday was Epiphany, the celebration of a star leading the Magi (wise outsiders) to the place where they could worship Jesus and offer their gifts. As I observed in yesterday’s Liberating Word, the gifts of “outsiders” haven’t always been recognized and welcomed by “insiders.”
Historically, the white majority has had a hard time recognizing the gifts people of color offer. Americans whose families have been in this country only a generation or two seem to resent the possibility that new immigrants come bearing many gifts that our nation needs.
Traditional manger scenes show the baby Jesus surrounded by Joseph, Mary, shepherds, and Magi, but scholars tell us the Magi probably didn’t arrive until sometime after Christmas. The word “magi” is from where we get the word “magic.” These visitors from the East were priests, astrologers, seers, and healers. They were the workers of mystery, high ranking officials in the royal court of Persia. Despite the popular Christmas carol, they probably were not “kings,” but served much the same role as shamans did for Native Americans.
Rev. Nancy Wilson, in her book Our Tribe, suggests that the magi were likely eunuchs. In that day, of course, many eunuchs were slaves who had been castrated by their captors. However, slaves seldom rose to such high positions. Jesus taught that there were people who were “born eunuchs.” Since being born sterile is a rare birth defect, it is possible Jesus was talking about lesbian and gay people who do not marry and reproduce, at least not like most of the population. One reason Rev. Wilson suggests that these Magi were probably gay is because, well, although they were in a hurry to see the One born to be the messiah, they still took time to shop before leaving.
Although we cannot prove the magi were gay, there are some indications that this is possible, while there is no evidence that they were heterosexual. Think of the implications if we had been taught the story this way when we were kids. Not only were people of color among the first to worship Jesus, but the lesbian and gay community was represented there, too. Far from being excluded from the realm of God, “outsiders” were included from the beginning. Far from being interlopers begging for the leftovers from the table of the church, they were there long before there even was a church.
If we could first read the story this way, maybe we could change the way we write the stories of who has gifts to offer today.
Blessings, Rev. Michael Piazza, The Center for Progressive Renewal