Read: Matthew 2:1-12
“And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.” V.12, NRSV
The Gospel Lectionary passages for The Epiphany are Matthew 21:1-12 and from the opening sentence the wonderful story of the Magi engages all our senses. Adventure, intrigue, power, politics, mystery, and an introduction to people from far flung places described as “the East.” The mysterious and beautiful star captures our imaginations, and we never tire of this story or singing “We Three Kings.” As a child I eagerly placed our “Wise Men and camels” into our
Nativity crèche early in Advent not wanting to wait six weeks for Epiphany. My mother would encourage my sister and I to move the Wise Men to different spots around the house every day to imitate their journey to Bethlehem. It was hard to wait! We wanted the Wise Men to get to Bethlehem and meet Jesus without the long trip, fuss, and bother. The idea of Wise Men on a long journey, following a star from a far-off land is exciting and stirred our imagination. Yet, no matter how I wanted the story to go according to my desires, the Wise Men slowly moved from coffee table to window sill to sideboard to side tables throughout Advent and Christmas eventually allowed to meet the child Jesus, but not in the crèche! Our mother took this story seriously!!
After meeting the holy child, the Magi are warned in a dream to return home a different way! Can you imagine the discussion over breakfast the next morning? “I had this strange dream…” “Well, in my dream…” And “Okay, looks like we all had the same dream. Now what?” Now what, indeed. We must go home by another road and that is scary, dangerous, and it is a big deal to change all our plans. For years we carefully planned each step in our journey thinking we would travel on our usual road, and now, we must go by another road. Perhaps a road less traveled and unfamiliar? Yes! We are going home a different way, another way, but we are going home.
Our new faith community is traveling together another way, a different way, on a new road with unexpected challenges, grief, joy, new relationships, and gladness. There is no shining star to guide us, but there is the light of Christ among us. There is no angel coming to us in dreams giving us a road map, but the Holy Spirit has called us and offered us leadership, community, sacred space and vision for a new home, a new space for worship, hope, healing, and grace. Most of all the love of God surrounds us and holds us faithfully in God’s hands.
The story of the three Kings offers us something new this year; an opportunity to travel by another road. We are presented with a different road; a new path and we are traveling together in joy and expectation knowing God is with us every step of the way. My friend, the late Naomi Mitchum, speaking of the grief of the disciples, said in her book, Harps in the Willows: Strengths for Reinventing Life, “God had run in their past, they reasoned. Why would God not walk with them in the future?” (p.8) Yes, God walks with us on another road leading into our future as a community of faith.
Rev. Mary E. Tumulty