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