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On a Journey

“. . . magi came from the East to Jerusalem.  They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?  We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”  Matthew 2:1b-2 (CEB)

There is so much about this passage that brings up questions for many of us:

Who were these magi (and what IS a “magi” anyway)?

What did they see in a stars?

How did they figure all this out?

Is this a real story or Matthew’s interpretation of a Savior for ALL the world?

Is it a segue to the slaughter of the innocents or the holy family’s escape to Egypt?

I’m sure there are plenty of answers, but it seems to me that we need to look beyond historical significance into the journey itself.  Three (or maybe more since Matthew doesn’t really say how many) wise ones set out on a journey.  They didn’t know what was in store for them, they only knew that there was something significant that motivated them to travel many miles to try to find a special king.

They stumbled into the paranoid King Herod which set up a series of events following their departure, but their intention was to find a king.  Imagine their surprise when they found a humble home with a two year old child being held by a peasant girl and guarded by her carpenter husband.  The scriptures don’t tell us what they thought and lead us to conclude that it didn’t matter.

The mission they had taken up was to find this “king child” and honor him.  Were they changed when they set out for home?  Did their lives take on a new meaning?  Did God in Christ touch them so they were never the same again?  We don’t know how their side of the story ends, but we know that their journey is a lot like ours.

From the moment we “meet” Jesus, we begin a journey.  Sometimes we turn away and reject him as not real, not the “true” thing.  Sometimes folks look elsewhere for their god.  Others start on the journey and stay with it for a while, but then wander away.  Some are on the journey, but they don’t know what they are looking for in the end.

Many have stayed on track, though.  Many faithful folks have started and taken the journey to kneel in front of the Christ child and to follow him to the cross and beyond.  That doesn’t mean that they haven’t taken detours along the way, but they have returned and continue to praise Jesus and try to live the kind of life that he taught and lived – to the best of their ability.

Maybe you know some of those saints who, although imperfect, were changed forever once they encountered Christ.  I invite you to pause and think about them right now.  (Pause)  What have you learned from them?  What example have they set?  What of their qualities would you like to incorporate into your own life?

As we celebrate Epiphany – God breaking into our world in Jesus, the Christ, and, as we start a new year, how will we all keep on keeping on the journey with Christ in our hearts?  It’s a new kind of way to make a New Year’s resolution!  Happy New Year!

Epiphany thoughts

And there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.”  Matthew 2:9b-10 (NRSV)

Epiphany is a time when we remember the visit of the Wise Men/Scholars/Magi (whatever you want to call them – they weren’t kings, though).  It’s also more than that, though.  The celebration of Epiphany is about the “in-breaking” or manifestation of God into our world.  It’s a revelation or a moment of understanding or realization.

The story of the Magi, who were probably more astrologers, has most likely been included by Matthew to establish that the ministry and mission of Jesus was for more than just the Jewish nation.  This would be an “aha” moment for many of the Jewish people because, as God’s chosen nation, they would not quickly accept Jesus as a Savior, much less as a Savior for ALL.  Since the Magi were Gentiles, their presence in the birth narrative in Matthew is a good indication that Gentiles were also welcome in the kingdom of God.

The idea of the star as their guide and how it lit their way ties in well with the teachings that God brings light; Jesus is the light of the world; and we are to shine our light for others to see Christ in us.  The Divine and light go together.  Epiphany shows us the way the Light came into the world to “enlighten” us, to teach us about God and God’s love, to show us how we are to brighten someone else’s life by sharing the love of Christ with them.

What are our “aha” moments when we realize that God’s presence is with us?  When have we experienced the joy of “seeing the Light” in some way or another?  How do we share that Light with others?  Let us keep our eyes, hearts, and minds open to see the presence of God wherever we are. 

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