Christmas isn’t over yet, but it would be hard to prove it in many places. The stores have all taken down their lights and Christmas merchandise and replaced them with Valentine’s hearts. The radio doesn’t play carols anymore. Most people have packed away their decorations for another year. Who would guess that the Christmas season does not end until January 6th?
It seems that we make the trip to Bethlehem at a frantic pace, barely taking time to notice the journey. But we don’t linger there. The gospel reading this week invites us to take a breath, pay attention, and be changed by the experience of greeting Christ.
If you have not read T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” it’s worth checking out. Eliot brings those magi alive in an unforgettable way. And once they are alive they are a bit meddlesome, at least for me.
I look at the news today and I am disgusted. The fiscal cliff fiasco and the impending debt ceiling debates make me want to run away. But then I am smacked in the head with the fact that more than 60,000 people have died in Syria. Right next to that tidbit, there is increased violence in Iraq and Pakistan. Further down the page, economic troubles in Portugal add to the growing list of struggling European countries. And these are just the headlines. It appears that no one is heading in a new direction.
So back to the magi. They went to Bethlehem to pay homage to the new born king. The had a long journey to get there. They were intercepted by Herod who had less than pleasant plans for this new king. They knelt before Mary and the baby Jesus. They offered their gifts. Then they went home by another road because the risk to Jesus was too high for them to return by the same route.
This is where they become meddlesome. Every time I read this passage I ask myself what gifts do I offer to Jesus and are these gifts the very best of what I have. This question is followed by a more difficult one: Does the road I travel pose any risk to Jesus, to my faith? Do I need to go in a new direction anywhere in my life for Christ’s sake, for my sake?
These questions and the search for their answers are better than New Year’s Resolutions if you’re wanting to make some changes in your life. If you got yourself to Bethlehem and knelt before that manger, why would you want to give less than your best or walk away unchanged?
If you and I linger for a bit, it won’t make headlines but it might make a difference.
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
RCL – Year C – Epiphany – January 6, 2013
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14