Sing to the Lord a new song.
Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. Everything old has passed away, see, everything has become new.
-II Corinthians 5:17
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Change is good. You go first.
They left for their own country by another road.
Or as King James puts it, the magi went home by another way. And isn’t that just what life is like?
On this Monday, which also happens also to be the Feast of the Epiphany, we read the story of the magi who came from the east in search of the Christ child. Once they had encountered him, they returned to their homes, though apparently not by the route they had originally intended. Their story brings us to the conclusion of the season of Christmas, 12 days preceded by the season of Advent, seasons filled with stories of people of faith whose spiritual journeys involved course correction, or recalculating to use the language of GPS.
Zechariah and Elizabeth, seriously senior citizens, all of a sudden had to find room in their house for a nursery. Is there a senior’s discount for Lamaze classes? Mary got the unexpected news that she was expecting. Joseph has numerous encounters with angels that make him the guy who exemplifies the saying: Life is what happens instead of what we plan. Shepherds and innkeeper and even Herod find holy interruption in their plans, courtesy of Christmas story. And then these magi, traveling from afar, following yonder star, find that after they meet Jesus, it was time to find another way home.
Epiphany coincides with the beginning of a new year, replete with opportunity for resolutions, intentions about how things might be different, how things might be made new. Maybe you’ve already made and broken new year’s resolutions.
The question is: are we open to the new thing that God has for us in this season, in this coming year? Asked another way, are we ready for that epiphany indicating that our journey home will cause us to travel some other way, maybe some uncharted way?
Maybe it’s a decision to make a radical change, taking a leap of faith, taking a big old risk, leaving something secure for something uncertain. The Bible is filled with stories like that. Sometimes that leap is the only way to live into God’s intention.
Maybe it’s a matter of bringing new attitude to the current situation without making any external changes, geographic or otherwise. Maybe it’s a change of heart.
Maybe it’s a set of circumstances beyond our control that give us little choice but to chart a new path.
One way or another, the feast which we observe today tells us that the encounter with Christ changes us. The news that God breaks into our world in ways we might not expect, tends to shake things up. One way or another, it’s just not same old/same old. The news that we are loved without condition frees us for new possibilities. The news that we are not alone, that God is with us (a.k.a., Immanuel), grants us courage to do and be something new, to chart a new path.
Open your heart this year to the new thing God has in store for you, the new way set out before you. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, perhaps make it a daily practice to ask God to show you that way, and to strengthen you for it.
Grace has brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home, perhaps by another way.
Resolving to deepen your spiritual life in 2020?
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