To Fall Down and Worship
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising…
A multitude of camels shall cover you…
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
Isaiah 60:3, 6 ESV
When I was young my parents took my sister, my brother, and me to see the musical Cats. The music was by Andrew Lloyd Webber and most of the lyrics came from TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. I didn’t know much about poetry then and knew nothing of his other works. Some years later I was surprised to find out that he had also written a piece about the wise men who came to visit the baby Jesus. It is called The Journey of The Magi.
In this poem Eliot imagines the wise men reminiscing about travelling together in a camel train from the east. Their journey was long, arduous, and tiring. The camels were stubborn and the nights cold. They missed the luxuries of the summer palaces back home and they wondered whether it had been folly to make the trip at all. The poem ends with the Magi reflecting on how their encounter with Jesus changed them. This is how Eliot put it:
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods. (1)
In TS Eliot’s imagination the wise men were never the same again. It’s as if the birth of Jesus sounded the death knell for their previous way of life. The Gospel of Matthew records that fateful meeting and tells us that when the Magi saw the infant Jesus, they “fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11 ESV).
We all have our own journey before we encounter Jesus and once we have met Jesus, and fallen at his feet in worship, everything changes. At times, we might find ourselves like the Magi in TS Eliot’s poem, looking with a sense of unease at the fallen world around us, but this is only because we are no longer of this world – we are being prepared for the Kingdom of God.
And, like the wise men, we have also been equipped with gifts with which we can serve our Lord and Saviour. Each of us has been given spiritual gifts so that we can be heralds of the good news of the coming return of the King.
Father, thank you for the stories in the Bible that enrich our lives. And thank you for Jesus, your Son, to whom we surrender every aspect of our being. We worship him as the wise men did in Bethlehem. Help us, please, to embrace the change that knowing Jesus has made in our life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Study by Gavin Henderson
About the writer: Gavin Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for GCI UK and Ireland
Local congregation: GCI Northampton Ecton Village Hall 78A High Street Ecton NORTHAMPTON NN6 0QB
Meeting time: Saturday 11am
Local congregational contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Word of Life contact: email@example.com