The Christmas story only starts at the manger. And I'm not talking about the next 30-some years either. I'm talking about the core story - the one we celebrate in manger scenes and Advent candles and familiar carols. If you start with the announcement to Mary and carry through to the visit from the Magi, you cover about 2 years, give or take. And all through that time, you find men and women who diligently seek out the Messiah either because of something they were told or something they learned from their own search. It's an amazing tribute to the "true seekers" who longed for that baby so long ago, even if he didn't quite look like they expected when they found him.
For example, right after the birth - within the first two weeks - we get the account of Mary and Joseph presenting their newborn at the Temple in Jerusalem. Given what we know of them, they certainly didn't stand out in a crowd and there were doubtless many other young couples with babies in line with them that day. But at least two people, two "true seekers" took notice.
Simeon had been told by God that he would see Messiah. On seeing the couple and Jesus standing in line, his heart must have skipped a beat or two. The old man hobbled over to them, took the baby in his arms, and began to sing a rather strange song. His words must have sounded odd as they spoke of his readiness to die now that he had held this baby. Then again, if you've seen and held the salvation you've longed for, what else would you say?
Anna was also there that day. She took notice of the baby, came to him, and created an anthem to Messiah. Her song surely echoed the other as now two people - two of the true seekers - had given testimony to the birth of the promised Savior.
Then there were the Magi. At the same time all the above was happening in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, these scholars sitting among their readings over 1,000 miles away saw something in the night sky that sent them on an epic journey. Whether it was a planet, star, or some other "ordinary" celestial object, we have record that two years later in Jerusalem, after they talked to Herod, they saw the start again and it filled their hearts with joy. They were truly seekers and they would find the King they sought.
Today we also find not what we expected, but rather what we so desperately need. We find this most humble unassuming King who has become a peasant so he can bring rescue and redemption just like he always intended. And we can say, despite the turmoil around us ...
(click the above for the Michael W. Smith song)