First United Methodist Church

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Long Journey Back to God | Devotion from Pastor Rachel (Jan. 5, 2022)

Good Morning Church Family! Let me be the last person to wish you a Merry Christmas! Yes, today is the last day of Christmastide and I hope it has been a beautiful season for you and your family and that if you traveled and engaged with extended family, that you are now home safe and not sick. Today marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas and tomorrow we celebrate Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day and celebrates the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, or non-Jews.

This morning at Trinity Christian Academy, on the Reeves campus, I had the privilege of teaching Chapel to our 3’s, 4’s and VPK students and we talked about the Christmas season and I finished the Christmas story with the narrative of the wise men, or the magi. It was perfect that I was teaching this story in that place, because with the flip of a switch, I was able to illuminate the beautiful stained-glass window that sits in our Sanctuary space there. The stained glass is called, The Adoration of the Magi and I invite you to schedule a time were you can go and see it while it still remains in our care for a while longer. This morning in Chapel, I told the children about the Magi or Wise Men and how they had traveled so far, for so long. I told them about the gifts they brought to 2-year-old Jesus and how that is partially why we give gifts at Christmas. And then I shared with them the last theme of the story, and what I would argue is the most important part of the Wise Men’s role.

I told our Preschoolers and then had them repeat back to me, that NO MATTER HOW FAR THEY GO, GOD WILL ALWAYS LOVE THEM. You see the story of the Wise Men is for me the story of the long journey back to God. Some people are lucky enough to get in on the action the night of the birth of Jesus; I’m talking of course about the Shepherds. Then there are others that will miss the story of Jesus because they are busying themselves with keeping their business going and are too distracted to see what is happening in their own barn, on their own property; I’m talking of course about the Innkeeper. And then there are those, who I see represented in the Wise Men, that take a long time to get into the Jesus Story. Maybe their journey is longer than two years, maybe it is closer to two decades or even longer. Maybe their journeys start with a fascination with the stars or math or literature, but something urges them on and they decide to follow after a long time of finding their influence elsewhere. I have to say that the story of the Wise Men or the Magi encourages me that no journey is too long and no person is too far to reach Jesus, the Christ.

Maybe that gives you hope. Because you have a child, or a grandchild, a friend or a partner that has been on their own wandering journey, for what seems like far too long and they have yet to reach Jesus, the Christ. You have prayed for them, talked with them, loved on them and yet, they still seem so far away. The story of the Wise Men reminds us not to lose hope and teaches us the importance of the star. There is something about the star that urged the Wise Men on, that kept pointing the way. The star remained bright and constant and consistent and ever-guiding so much so that the Wise Men continued when the journey was arduous. They didn’t stop because they ran into obstacles or encountered dishonest people. And they didn’t give up hope when the journey took much longer than they had planned or imagined. They kept following the star and their persistence was rewarded.

I wonder if you and I are like the Star? Are we remaining bright and constant and ever-guiding the people we find around us? Are we looking for the joy and the light amidst the pain and darkness? Are we consistently being people of our word, grounded in the hope of Jesus and are we good tour guides who are consistently pointing the way to God? I hope that in this new year and amidst new challenges that you would invite God to show you how to be a bright Star to those “Wise Men” around you. I also invite you to come and see for yourself this beautiful stained-glass picture of The Adoration of the Magi at Reeves. I’m there every morning dropping my son off at school and I would love to show it to you.

Grace and Peace to you, and Happy New Year!