Today is Epiphany, the day when the church observes the visitation of the Magi after the birth of Jesus. This year, my German village is celebrating with a twist–a new Dial a King program.
Last year this time, I posted about the Heilige Drei Konige–the three wise kings– and the star singers who come around German villages the first week of January to observe the holiday and raise money for children’s charities. (You can read the post here if you need a primer on the tradition: Die Heilige Drei Konig.)
I counted myself among the lucky ones last year–the three kings visited my home. They were a little less earnest and more distracted than I had imagined . . . chatting on cell phones. . . but maybe this is the modern face of wise men.
In fact, this year you have to phone in your request for them to come visit you. No kidding. A few weeks ago, there was an announcement in the local paper: if you want the Heilige Konig to pay your home a visit, you should phone or email the posted number/address and schedule a visit and donation to their charity.
Very efficient, that. Very modern. Or maybe not modern–probably kind of true to the story of the Magi. They were planners. They studied the stars; they packed their bags; they navigated a great distance without any GPS to steer them off on certain exit ramps. They didn’t wait for the revelation to come as a lightening bolt: they did the math, said the prayers, kept the faith, and planned the trip.
Still, I miss those wandering Heilige Konig in my village. I like the epiphany that comes as a lightening bolt, the Holy Kings who come, unbiden, to bestow blessings on your home. Call me a drama queen, but scheduling our blessings bothers me– I guess it’s not unrealistic, but it’s far too convenient. Dial a King for your religious holiday feels too much like putting a drive through window on the church for quick service.
Maybe your life works well on such schedules and conveniences. If so, I’m happy for you. But mine? Lord help us, mine is far messier. True confession: I meant to Dial that King, but lost the newspaper article while tidying up for a holiday party or guests or dinner. Maybe it went out with recycling a week or two ago, or maybe I’ll find it in a pocket sometime around mid-March, or maybe it’s in the butter compartment of the refrigerator. I haven’t the foggiest idea where it is . . .I’m bad at these things.
But I’d always hoped the Magi, in their wisdom, might find my home anyway.