This article also appears in the January 2018 issue of the Diocesan Post.
As people on a sacred journey what might we learn from others who have been on a similar journey to seek and find Jesus? The season of Epiphany is the story of three travellers who come from afar to find a child who has been born. Tradition tells us more about these stargazers than Scripture does. We know they were from the east and journeyed together following a star. They believed that the child to be born was to be a king and that he was to be born in Judea. Not knowing that this birth was not good news for everyone, they went to the King, Herod, to seek direction. Unfortunately, this was a mistake resulting in the deaths of many innocent children.
The travellers are informed through the scribes’ interpretation of Scripture that the child was to be born in Bethlehem. They followed the star to Bethlehem and brought their gifts to the family. We are told nothing about their engagement with the child and his family. We are left to ask the questions: “What might have been said? What could have been said? What should have been said?” These are the questions we bring to the story, questions which will ultimately shape us on our sacred journey.
As we–as individuals, parish and diocese—journey into this new year, my/our hope is that we will encounter Jesus in a new way and be directed, shaped and renewed through that experience.
As these travellers were on this journey together, one of their main characteristics must have been trust—trust in one another and trust in God as they sought Jesus. As we travel, we are called to build trust with one another and in doing so we deepen our friendship. The Scriptures say nothing about friendship but we know that, as we journey, friendship grows out of the trust we share with others. This is my hope for us—that as we travel on our sacred journey as a diocese, trust will grow and friendship will be real.
God uses three things to inform and direct the travellers towards their encounter with Jesus—a natural phenomenon (a star), the despot Herod, and Scripture. We are, therefore, called to be attentive to the many ways God will direct us.
How will we be directed in our search to encounter Jesus anew in this journey in the new year? Will we engage Scripture with curiosity to hear what God is saying to us in our generation? Will we be attentive to the people we meet and experience, by accident or by error, that God will use to shape us anew? God will use people who will surprise us and use us in a new way to meet Jesus. Lastly, how will God come to us in creation and guide us on our journey?
On our journey of friendship and trust, into the new year, we anticipate that God will form us into a renewed people with renewed hearts and spirits. We will experience this renewal through an openness to meet Jesus in new ways. God will lead us on this sacred journey through surprising methods and people to travel a different way as individuals, parishes and a diocese.