Would you follow a star? What if it meant going to another country where you have never been? In the Gospel of Matthew, the story of the astrologers, or the three wise men as they often have been named, begins when they arrive in Jerusalem. They were looking for the newborn King of the Jews, and where else should they look but in the palace of the capital city?
While there are many theories and stories about the men and what could have been their journey, the gospel presents us with just enough information for us to ponder what that means for our own lives. These were men who were knowledgeable; they were able to interpret nature to understand that a king was newly born, and not just any king, but one special enough to warrant their attention and gifts. They were also men who either could, or chose to put their life on hold to make such journey. They were also open enough to be directed by a dream that instructed them to go back home via a different route.
When we look at nature what do we see? Leaves strewn on the ground that need to be raked. A sun shining so brightly we need to wear sunglasses. Snow falling so quickly that we can barely keep up shoveling out our cars and walkways. Instead of looking at nature for signs of God, it often seems that nature is just a nuisance to be tolerated. What if we looked at nature as messengers? Would we be able to correctly interpret the signs like those astrologers? Would we be able to put our lives aside to follow their revelation? Or do we need an unmistakable sign from God like the shepherds received, with a host of angels praising God and telling them where to find the newborn?
The narrative of Christmas involves being on a journey: Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, the shepherds to see the newborn and the astrologers to see the king. Each journey is a faith journey and is different based on the person and God’s plan for them. As we begin a New Year, how can we take these Christmas stories and bring them to life in our own faith journey?