A customer told me yesterday that she had gone home to find her teenage son riding his skateboard off the roof. Having a couple of teenage sons of my own, I said, “Of course!” Mine haven’t done that yet, or I haven’t caught them at it, but that’s just because it hasn’t occurred to them yet. If they thought of it, they would do it. Another told me that a friend of hers has a son who has just published a book of poetry under the name “Kale Darkstar.” Well, why not?
The revels are nearly over, though. Tomorrow night will be Twelfth Night, the next day the solemn feast of Epiphany, and then we must resign ourselves to winter.
The Star of Bethlehem is one of the powerful symbols of Epiphany. The other is the group of people known as the Magi. We know them as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men. The Bible only tells us that some magis came from the east. There is nothing in the scripture that says there were three, that they rode camels, or even that they were men.
Later legend holds that they were Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, kings of India, Chaldea, and Persia. We see them in paintings, a white guy, an Asian guy, and a black guy, riding camels through the night. Modern Epiphany sermons tend to hold onto this legend and this visual image, because it is a good symbol of multiculturalism and unity. Another good topic to contemplate as we settle into the new year.
Here is a hymn for Epiphany which doesn’t necessarily evoke those men on camels: “Who Are These Who Ride by Starlight?”
This song was written by Marnie Barnell in 1996, and at this website uses the tune “Dona Dona.”
And here it is with another tune, written for it by New Zealand composer Jillian Bray:
This is rather a political hymn. I don’t have a problem with mixing religion and politics, or music and politics either, but consider yourself warned.