“From the lips of the Magi – a story in four parts”

By now you have heard the story of our adventure following a star.

People always ask what drew us to travel all that way; and about meeting Herod; and the first time we saw the Christ child.

We each have our own reasons … and memories. You’ve heard a few already.

But what has not been given enough attention is our journey home.


The disciples examine the fresh wounds on Jesus's body after the resurrection

Matthew 2:1-12 (especially v. 12)

January 3, 2021

Village Chapel Presbyterian Church

Dr. Todd R. Wright (part of a joint Epiphany service)


By now you have heard the story of our adventure following a star. People always ask what drew us to travel all that way; and about meeting Herod; and the first time we saw the Christ child. We each have our own reasons … and memories. You’ve heard a few already.

But what has not been given enough attention is our journey home.

 

It was different from our journey to Bethlehem. Matthew captured it with a pithy phrase – we went home “by a different way.”


What he meant was that we didn’t go back to Jerusalem and spill the beans to Herod. We couldn’t! It was evident that he was a poor excuse for a king – more concerned with his grip on power than with serving God … or God’s people. His sly and bloodthirsty schemes were as clear as the star in the night sky. So we took a different route home.

But what Matthew’s phrase missed is that we were different too.

All the way there we were looking forward to meeting the king the star signaled, but on the way home we wrestled with what we had seen and done.

The star had vanished, but what we had seen was seared into our hearts: the king we had been looking for was not rich or powerful, but a child born in a small town to an ordinary couple.


What was God playing at? We had always been told that gods value power, not vulnerability, or humility, or the common. Instead, the star had led us to an unexpected twist – a toddler who smelled like jam and sawdust in a home filled with love.


If God had a hand in all this revelation – and we all agree that God did – then perhaps we should be seeking (and celebrating) different values?


We had much to ponder.

 

But we also had to wrestle we what we had failed to do. We refused to aid Herod’s murderous plot … but we did nothing to stop it either.2


We did not help the holy family escape (perhaps to our own countries), even though we knew Herod was capable of vicious violence.


We did not throw that brutal bloodhound off the scent, by telling him that our quarry had already fled, thereby sparing all those other innocent children.


We did not stand up to a despicable despot, by protesting that he was obviously paranoid and misusing his power.


Instead, we slunk home by another way and saved our skins.


Take my word for it – it keeps us up nights.


May God forgive us!


And may God use this story to mold us into people worthy of the child we met. Amen


[1] “The Magi visiting Jesus in Bethlehem,” from The True Story of Christmas by Scott Freeman
[2] This line of thinking is from “Home by another way” a reflection by Shannon Meacham at RevGalBlogPals, 1/1/19
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