a personal and biblical reflection, based on Matthew 2.1-12, on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 2016
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Whenever I read and reflect, as I did this Epiphany morning, on Matthew’s (and the Bible’s only) account of the visit of the magi, those astrologer-philosophers from the East, to the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem, my attention always is arrested by this detail. The magi, going home, returned “by another road.”
Before going to Bethlehem, they had stopped in Jerusalem, inquiring of King Herod, “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.” Herod, alarmed that another might claim his throne, deceitfully replied, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” Matthew, remarking on the providence of divine purpose outflanking the intent of human ill, tells us that the magi, forewarned by a vision, bypassed Jerusalem on their way home.
Nevertheless, I see in Matthew’s language the imagery of change. The magi had come to Bethlehem to see and worship “the child who has been born king.” I don’t know what, who they expected, but surely, I think, it couldn’t have been one “wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger” (a filthy feeding trough for animals). So, they, as I interpret it, having beheld grandest majesty in grossest humility, had their perceptions and opinions, their knowledge and sense of the way things are challenged, confronted and changed.
This morning, as I continued to reflect on the magi and project myself into this still new year, I recalled words I’d written in my journal on January 6, 2014 (words that I contemplated in a blogpost this day a year ago: change: journey’s end & beginning – a reflection for The Epiphany):
There are times and seasons of calling
when signs appear, bidding that I come
on a journey, though one not always straight or smooth,
but filled with trial and test.
Still, only when I dare embark
can I know the meaning of the beckoning;
one that ever begins within, calling me to change.
I wonder. 2016, what will you bring? What will I behold in the manger of your days that will challenge, confront me, calling me to change? My way of perceiving? Thinking? Feeling? Being?
 Luke 2.12