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Posts tagged ‘faith journeys’

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!

About Fathers

“Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”  Exodus 20:12

This is part of the ten commandments.  It’s not a suggestion but a commandment.  Today we see many instances of people not honoring their parents.  On the other hand, we also see many instances of parents not honoring their children.  Every day children are abused, placed as a “prize” between divorcing parents, treated as a possession, sold into slavery, beaten, discarded as trash, forced into sexual abuse, and a variety of other demeaning and devastating situations.  They have no voice and they have no power.  It is the responsibility – a God-given responsibility – of the parents to care for them.

So, how do we reconcile the command to honor our father and mother when they don’t do the same for us?  Our social workers try to find ways for the abused child to be placed in a different home, but the ultimate responsibility is with those who have become parents.  I have known a number of people who have experienced abuse at their parents’ hand, many of them took it from their fathers.

I had a best friend who experienced abandonment and rejection from every father figure in her life.  She could have chosen to be bitter and angry.  She could have chosen to reject God when she thought of God as a father, but her attitude was that God was the only “father” who hadn’t left her.  God was the only “father” who stuck with her, loved her unconditionally, and was the steady presence in her life.  What a great attitude!  What a great way to view her situation and to bring the positive into it by not blaming God for what had happened or transferring her anger and sadness toward her earthly “fathers” to God.

Many of us have someone who has been a father or father-figure in our lives.  Many of us have had someone who has set a good example for us, who has planted seeds of faith and helped us move forward in our faith journeys.  My own dad (and grandfathers) demonstrated Christian living to all of us in my family of origin.  His witness to me wasn’t so much in what he said but what he DID to live out his faith.  Oh sure, he was highly involved in the church to the point of ridiculous at times because he had meetings night after night at church.  But it was even more than that.  It is how he treated others:  with kindness and respect.  It is how he forgave those who had wronged him even when most of us would have held onto that hurt and pain.  It is how he raised us with a strong knowledge of right and wrong and with moral values that we all eventually returned to in adulthood.

Good fathers set a good example, admit when they are wrong, ask for forgiveness and forgive others.  They try to help where they can, and they support their children with love and encouragement to the best of their ability.  Although there are varying degrees of this, a good father will try to set a good example.

On this Father’s Day, I’m grateful for the man who has been given to me as my father, and I’m grateful for those men who have been like fathers to me throughout my life.  There have been some bad examples, but today I celebrate the good examples!  Thanks be to God for those fathers who have inspired us!

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