Friday, January 6, 2012
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: `And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; 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. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. Matthew 2:1-12
Life is full of what can seem to be detours. When we are on a journey, we set out in one direction and have to change paths due to construction, an accident or bad weather. There are detours when driving, delays and layovers when flying. In our lives though, the detours and changes of direction can happen due to some tragedy like loss of job,injury, and illness, or by some blessing like childbirth, children coming home or a new job that takes us to a new place. Often times when what feels like failure, those things which begin as missteps and mistakes, can become the best redirection of life. Many quote the famous line, "life is what happens when we are making other plans." Detours are God's way of keeping us safe from a bigger danger, a bigger chasm, a path to destruction.
Today is the feast of the Epiphany. We celebrate by rehearsing the story of the three wise men who came to see the child Jesus. They were looking for a king and found instead a simple family in a humble stable, and a godly king none the less. Then they were sent home another way. They had started out on a journey expecting human royalty and found their way to God. They began by following a star, and ended by following a dream. God touched them and brought light and love into their lives in ways we can hardly understand. But their best made plans were redesigned by God, as ours are, so that the whole world might know of God's love and care for us.
Today, I ask God to help me see the twists and turns as God's leading, the hills and valleys as seeing God's perspective in my life. May the light of the world shine today in every dark corner. May I be strong enough to listen, and have courage enough to follow. May our lives bear witness to the gift of the Magi, the gift of God with us for the whole world.
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.