Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Remember When . . . The Trip Took Years?

First, check out my interview at Stephanie Morrill's blog today! Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Stray Drop!

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The Christmas pageants totally confused me when I was a kid. I mean, if the Wise Men entered from the back of the room right after the angels sang the Hallelujah Chorus and the shepherds elbowed each other out of the way so they could get to the manger . . . then why did Herod take out his wrath on toddlers? It took me a while to figure out that it took a while for those mystical magi to make their way from wherever-they-came-from to Israel.

There's so much rich history surrounding this story, though! One of my favorites is an Italian tradition. They tell the story of the Befana, and it's one that really stuck with me after I first heard it.

According to lore, during their two-year trek the magi stopped off at a house for food and rest. The resident was an old woman who, instead of taking them in, shunned them and went so far as to chase them away with her broom.

We all know that the magi made their way to Israel in spite of this setback, but that's not where the Befana's story ends. For many years, she lived her life without concern for these strangers. But then later in life, she heard the message of the Christ and realized that those foreigners she had chased off were messengers of the Lord Himself. Stricken with grief, she repented of her hard heart and took that offending broom with her to go proclaim the salvation message, flying around the world with the Gospel.

It's an interesting twist on the image our society has of a broomstick-flying witch--this one repentant and a missionary. In Italy, they celebrate the Befana on the Epiphany (January 6); in each village, someone dresses up as the character and goes around giving candy to the children.

I think it's a great way to remember that what we consider "the Christmas story" is in actuality a miracle that spanned years. I'm going to be chatting more about the magi on the Epiphany, since it falls on a Wednesday, so don't forget to come back!

2 comments:

  1. People's wild fables are interesting, to say the least. But I'm glad I don't have to depend on them. I can count on the Gospel and know it's the pure truth that I can rely on. Hallelujah.

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  2. That's the Gospel Truth, all right. =) Still, I get a kick out of the lore, especially when it points back to Christ.

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