Three Very Different Kings
Like most people, I spend the time between Christmas and New Year cleaning out and sorting through the things I no longer need. It is a refreshing feeling to start the year with a clean desk. During my sorting, I came across a very moving story written by a man named Ulrich Peters. I don’t know where I got this story from and I don’t even know when it was written. I think this is a fitting story for this Epiphany Sunday. I would like to read to you my translation of “Drei merkwürdige Gäste” – The three Odd Guests.
A Surprise Appearance in Bethlehem
The three noble Magi from the east had left the barn and the child in the manger. As they disappeared into the horizon something strange happened. Something that is not found in any book: Three odd figures appeared at the barn in Bethlehem.
The Joy of Life
The first one was wearing a coat that was made of different kinds of patches. She slowly approached the child in the manger. She was made up like a clown, but behind this funny mask was a very sad face, with a heartbroken look. When she saw the child, a faint smile appeared on her face. She tenderly touched the child’s face, and said: “I am the joy of life! I have come to visit you, because mankind has nothing left to laugh for. They have no more joy in their lives. Everything has become so deadly serious.” Then she took off her overcoat and covered the little child. “It’s cold in the world. Maybe the coat of a clown can warm and protect you”.
Then a second figure appeared. On closer look one could see a haunted face and feel that a frantic force was driving the figure. But the moment she drew close to the child in the manger, it was as if all the anxiety and turmoil left her. She caressed the child's face gently and said “I am time! I barely exist; they say time flies. Mankind has forgotten about the deep secret which time holds. Time does not pass; time develops! Time grows wherever and whenever you share it!” Time then searched her coat and put an hourglass in the manger. “There is still a little time in the world. I am giving you this hourglass as a gift, because it is not too late. Take it as a sign for you to remember that you always have as much time as you take. Share it with others.”
I Am Love
And then the third figure approached the manger. Her face was abused and full of scars as if she had been repeatedly beaten. The moment she faced the child, it was as if the wounds and scars on her face healed at once. All the damage life had caused her was gone. The figure tenderly caressed the child’s face and said, “I am love! They say that I am too good for this world. That’s why they mistreat me and try to destroy me.” While she spoke she began to cry and three big tears fell onto the child. “Whoever has love suffers a lot in this world. Take my tears. They are the water that makes stones soft and smooth. They are like the rain that softens the harsh dry soil and make it fertile again. They are tears that make even the desert bloom.” And then the tears transformed themselves into three beautiful rose colored roses.
The figures kneeled down in front of the heavenly child. Three odd figures that brought their gifts to the child - each gift was like a desire to live. The child looked at the figures as if it understood every word. All of a sudden love turned around and spoke to the people who had gathered: “They will make a fool out of this child, they will take a way his life and he will suffer a great deal, because he will love unconditionally. But because he takes joy serious and because he is very generous with time and love, the world will never be the same.” Then these three odd figures left the barn. Those who witnessed these events thought for a long time about the miraculous words and requests which were spoken.
Since the birth of Christ our lives and time on earth have come under a new star. And this star makes all things bright and heals all wounds.
It is a great joy that has been given to all people and that includes you and me.
So much for this very moving story from Ulrich Peters. It brings tears to my eyes especially when I look back at how the world developed…so totally different than the intention of the child in the manger.