Whenever we see icons, paintings, and images of the Nativity of Christ, we often see the Holy Family surrounded by Angels, Wise Men, Shepherds, Animals and we might think …well there is the 'whole story' on that Starry Starry night in a nutshell.
Yet, when we read the accounts in the Holy Gospels, from Luke, from Matthew we encounter spaces of time between events. Luke describes the Herald of Angels and the Great Announcement, The Shepherds in the field with their flocks, the Promise of Peace on Earth to men of Good Will. But where are the three kings who traveled from the east? Matthew picks up the story as shown in the icons and paintings.
King Herod fearful of a New Born King, secretly summoning the Wise Men asked them to go and find the child. The journey apparently took time, and following the Bright Star they arrived in Bethlehem much later than that Holy Night. Some historians and scholars say from a few months up to two years perhaps.
Whatever the timeframe might have been, they went as Herod commanded and in Bethlehem found the Lord, the Christ Child in a house, and still an infant boy with Mary his mother as Matthew's Gospel describes. They threw themselves down and worshiped Him and opened treasures of gold frankincense and myrrh. Whatever time it took is a mystery to us still.
But, what the Magi found was the Real Star of Wonder God With Us. And so the icons tell us an important story, yes the whole, the full story in which even today we find ourselves.
The fact of Seeking Jesus, no matter how long it takes, is part of our own life's journey. Some find Him sooner, and others later in life. What we see in the icon teaches us that we too are on a journey like the Magi and forever how long it takes -moving, walking, talking, looking to find Christ in our lives. And, it will happen when we follow the signs that God our Father puts in front of us; a burning heart, a desire from within, a hope, the Light of Christ shining in and through others.
It is all there waiting for us as it was for the people who sat in darkness and found a Great Light, and who lived even after Christ the Messiah Our Lord and God grew up to adulthood and rose to heaven, opening the possibility of that journey to us. Christ the Light of the World, who is Himself the Mystery revealed, as we sing at the start of every Badarak Khorhoot Medz (Խորհուրդ Մեծ).
"A Picture is worth a thousand words" it is said, and the Icon of the Nativity tells the full story, the whole story, and much more. So the next time you look at the Icon of the Nativity, the night when Christ Jesus was born you will see the image of eternity, timelessness and parts of the whole story still revealing, and guess what, you are part of it. What a blessing that is.