This last Sunday, we celebrated the ancient church Feast of the Epiphany, the celebration of the visit of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus. As we know from the Bible, Christmas cards and Nativity scenes, these exotic foreign men follow the star on a long and difficult journey to witness to the extraordinary birth of a child who would be king, king of the Jews but also King of all mankind. This Epiphany, this aha moment, revelation is for us all. Men, certainly not of Jewish faith and family, receive the message along with those who were waiting and looking for the Messiah. The message is for all. The message is for us.
What did it take for these men to receive this message? They were certainly not passive. They observed. They observed the star. They attended to the message the star conveyed. They attended and they followed. They set out. After being sidetracked by worldly concerns and voices in the dealings with Herod, they refocused attention on the star and continued to the source of the epiphany.
There was sacrifice in this journey and meeting. Yes, they brought costly gifts, which perhaps were sacrificial, but as one writer said “no widow’s mite”. Their sacrifice was personal, their time, attention, possibly their comfort, certainly their safety. They also sacrificed their status quo, their same old, same old. New ideas, new truths. Meeting God changes us. If we allow it to. Sometimes whether we welcome it or not.
At the end of the story, their journey continues. By another road. Keeping the focus on God’s leading, they do not return to Herod.
We experience many revelations through our lives, many chances to chose the distraction or the heart of something. One of the great challenges of our racket-filled, electronic run, way too busy lives is to leave ourselves any kind of open space at all for attending to the signs and leadings God provides if we but see them.
All this talk of journeys rings true with me having just returned from a 1200 mile drive through and around Big Bend. God’s presence is everywhere and there are not many distractions (well maybe except at the bar in Terlingua). On the outset of the journey, we saw a billboard outside Sabinal with the message to “THINK GOD”. Profoundly simple. Not often easy. Perfect message for this season of Epiphany.
Rev. Virginia Yochem St. Stephens Episcopal Church, Goliad The Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Refugio