“A Different Road” – Sunday preview for January 7 by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

January 4th,2018 Categories: Latest News, Stephanie Kendell Letters

Beloved Church,

Happy New Year! What an exciting time it has been during this season of Advent and Christmas. I am so thankful for all the ways you have each connected and contributed to this incredible, growing, seeking, thinking, and loving community. I give thanks for each and every one of you.

Speaking of our incredible community, this week will really be something special. This Sunday we will be honoring the Rev. Dr. Alvin O’Neal Jackson as our Pastor Emeritus with preaching from The Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, General Minister and President Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It will be a Sunday you won’t want to miss.

Every January I take stock of this things I am grateful for in my life. My health. My family. My Church. My God. It’s a pretty extensive list as I have a lot to be grateful for. But this list also reminds me that I have certain expectations and roads in which I think my life will travel. Things like: I expect to have the same friends, have the same access to healthcare, and live in the same city. Yet each year, something happens in my life that changes everything and makes me change course.

That is what we find happening in this week’s scripture. The wise people, often thought of as astrologers, followed an order in which they had a clear vision of how they thought this journey would end. A round trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and back. All to find a baby. It seemed like a pretty easy trip. However, once they met Jesus, the expected road they had traveled on changed. They were met with the unforeseen love of God, and a new journey began.

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. (Matthew 2:1-12 NRSV)

We have so many choices in our lives. When to get up. What to do for a job. Who to be friends with. Where to spend your extra time and money. Where to live. You get the picture. And each one of those choices leads you on a road to your next choice. However, like the wise people who chose to listen to Herod and find the child, their roads were changed when they met Christ. They chose to walk a new path with others who were open to the love of God. They were open to unexpected ways God is at work loving this world.

Friends, I hope your roads change. I hope this new year catches you by surprise and you find yourself on a new road with Christ, traveling with those who love and support you on this journey.  I hope the unexpected mystery of God finds you in a place open to receive it, share it, and journey with it all the days of this new year.

Shalom Y’all.

Rev. Stephanie