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I would describe the depiction of the wise men in nativity scenes as permissible "poetic license" designed to combine the immediate facts of Christ's birth with the global recognition and implications of His nativity in a single scene that does not require reference to multiple accounts. This does not (in my opinion) detract from the gospel accounts, since, although the presence of the Magi at Jesus' birth is a human invention, it maintains the central facts that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were still present in Bethlehem when the Magi arrived, and that the star that led the Magi to Jesus was apparently divinely instituted for that specific purpose (Matthew 2:9).
Unfortunately, much of the popular images of Christmas do not line up with scripture. Three wise men? The number is not actually mentioned. Mary on a donkey? Not in the Bible. At our church, the nativity is at the center of the church while the wise men wise men are off to the side because they are still traveling.
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