Epiphany Sunday- Jan. 6, 2002
by Doug Wysockey-Johnson
Home by Another Way
[This sermon was given from an outline. The outline is collected here.]
EARLIER YOU HEARD STORY OF THE MAGI-I CONSIDER THE WISE MEN BIBLICAL OPPORTUNISTS
*Managed to take their 15 minutes of fame, and parlay it into all kinds of publicity
-You see them in manger scenes, xmas plays, xmas cards, included in carols
-Basically show up one time in the bible-12 verses in Mtt., yet they are biblical
celebrities. Known around the world, little children could tell you who they are
-Anyone can pick them out of a lineup-they are famous.
*Wonder if there is resentment among people like Habbakuk, or Obadiah-people who have entire OT books named after them, but most people, myself included, couldn’t tell you much about them
*But the wise men-we know the wise men
PROBABLY WE DO NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT MUCH OF WHAT WE KNOW TO BE TRUE ABOUT THE 3 WISE MEN ISN’T REALLY IN THE BIBLE-emerged from tradition
*For instance, We know there were these 3 wise men, though we actually don’t know how many there were, and we know they were astrologers or scientist, or interpreters of dreams or academics or members of the royal court.
*We Know they follow this star, to Bethlehem, but we aren’t sure if the it was truly a star or a comet or a meteor or a supernova, and we know that it led them all the way, aren’t sure if it was with them just at the beginning, and end, or during the whole trip.
–Anyway the story is familiar to us. (I believe what Barbara Brown Taylor says: ‘Its not that the facts don’t matter. It is just that they don’t matter as much as the stories do, and stories can be true whether they happen or not.’
*They stop at Jerusalem, for directions, Herod tells them its Bethlehem you are looking for, and by the way, let me know when you find this new King, because I am really excited about having a rival for my power and I want to worship him too.
*The star stops over Bethlehem, they find Mary and Joseph, now living in a house, and Jesus is no longer a baby but a child because a journey of this length could have taken at least a year and a half. Here they are filled with joy; they know that the trip was worth it, that this child represents what they have been seeking for (by way, Magi often called ‘seekers-appropriate’)
*And then they are warned in a dream to avoid wicked King Herod, and so they begin their journey back home. And this is the phrase that has stuck with me all week-in this familiar story, this was what felt new: ‘They left for their own country by another way’, or in another translation, they ‘went home by another way’
BEEN WONDERING THIS WEEK–WHAT WAS THEIR TRIP BACK HOME LIKE?
*What was the impact of their journey, and their transforming experience with Jesus?
*What does it mean to go back someplace familiar, but in a new way. Return home,
*Not only an epiphany question, but also it seems like a good question in these days of returning.
-returning home from the holidays,
-returning to school and homework, our routines after setting things aside (I returned to a whole bunch of stuff that was in my ‘I’ll look at this after the Christmas holiday’)
*What does it mean to come back home in a different way?
JUDY CANATO IS A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR BASED IN CLEVELAND
*A recent article in the journal Weavings, she writes about Paradox Road.
*Paradox Road is the road of faith for her, it’s the road we are on if we have decided to
be on a spiritual journey.
*She calls it Paradox road, because for her, the spiritual life is filled with paradoxes.
She defines as a statement that seems absurd but in reality expresses a possible
truth. (Reminds us that it was a form of communication that Jesus used often)
AT END OF THE ARTICLE, SHE LISTS SOME TRAVEL TIPS IF YOU ARE JOURNEYING ON PARADOX ROAD. Read a few of these for you:
1. What appears to be a detour may be the most important leg of the journey: we may think we have veered off course, only to discover that our mistake has led us someplace we needed to be.
2. Too much concern for safety can be dangerous:
3. Sometimes we travel farthest by sitting still: When we think we have been accomplishing so much with our rushing around, in truth we may have done little of importance. At other times, when we think we have completely stalled out and going nowhere, we may be surprised by the how far we have come.
4. Enemies and aliens often make the best travel companions: Enemies defined as those who bump into our selfishness and bruise our egos-are our greatest friends. They help us grasp the truth about ourselves and God. Aliens are those whose views and perceptions differ radically from our own. They help us see what we could not see otherwise.
5. The Road less traveled is the one most tested and true: This less traveled road is actually well worn for those who have eyes to see. There are many fellow travelers to companion us if we are willing to take this road less traveled.
*As I read these travel tips for those on Paradox Road, I found myself wondering if that was some of what it meant for the wise men to come home by a different way. If this might be how they were changed by their seeking and finding
I WOULD ADD ONE OTHER TRAVEL REMINDER FOR RETURNING HOME BY A DIFFERENT WAY.
*Comes out of my own life these days, and isn’t necessarily paradox.
*Would say that we are given just enough light for our travels. Usually not as much as we want or think we need….but just enough.
THIS HAS BEEN A REAL TIME OF TRANSITION FOR KATHRYN AND I.
*We are 8 months in to our move to this area, and some days it feels like we should be further along, even though not sure what that means.
*The star that called me to F@W felt like wise men's star on the trip to Bethlehem-strong sense of guidance, of this being what I should do. Clear and bright.
*But what that means day in and day out has been less clear. Days, early on
I didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to be doing Sit at my desk, ‘ok, here I am, director at FAW.’ Wonder what that means. (Say more but board members present)
*there have been Other times I have felt very clear about what I need to do tomorrow, but really wonder what the big picture is-where its going. F@W, our life.
THAT'S WHAT I MEAN BY JUST ENOUGH LIGHT.
*Sometimes the immediate step is dark-what the next step is unclear, I see the star, the bigger picture.
– Other times even though the future looks very uncertain, its like I have a Pretzel headlamp, ground is illumined before me.
OUR WHOLE MOVE DOWN HERE HAS BEEN A FORM OF RETURNING HOME BY A DIFFERENT ROAD
*And I feel like I am being asked to learn for the hundredth time that what God has promised is not a fully illumined path; not clear road signs and well marked turns, and rest stops at all the points that I feel I need them.
*Rather I have been promised, and have received, just enough light to return home in a new way.