I most certainly did not expect the invitation to look like that. I am a pretty quiet and non-confrontational guy. I seek out ways to calm the sea, not create waves. So how exactly did I find myself on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol participating in a Black Lives Matter demonstration? I felt as out of place as it sounds. But I also knew that I was being invited into something that would profoundly shake me to the core. I knew that this unfamiliar package contained an invitation to encounter Christ. I knew I would never be the same.
We are entering the second week of Advent. It seems that my Advent guides always use this week to tell the story of the Magi–the Wise Men–who travel from a distant land, following a star, in order to lay gifts at the feet of the newborn King of the Jews.
It took me a few years to see why this particular part of the story is so jarring. The people around Jesus, people of “The Book”, didn’t see it. But the Magi–a people of a different nationality and even a different religion–were led to Jesus through the intentional practice of their own religious tradition. These outsiders saw what God had presented as the sign of Jesus’ birth–a sign that made them perhaps most likely to see it.
Movement 1: Intentionality & Faith
The Magi found the discovery of “The Star” so compelling that they embarked on a journey that some scholars believe would have taken approximately 2 years to complete. I don’t believe that they knew exactly where they were going. They only saw the star and followed it with intentionality. They had faith that their journey would indeed take them to the King.
It is my prayer this week that I might be inspired by the Magi. Though I do not see the destination, I see the invitation to embark on the journey of today. I pray that I will find the strength within myself to embark on that journey with intentionality, having faith that it will lead me to an encounter with Christ–even if that journey takes me to unfamiliar “distant lands”.
Movement 2: Embracing the Mystery & Welcoming the Stranger
The Magi claimed to know how to find the Christ. To many Jews this might have seemed impossible. These foreigners are not of the right faith to have any understanding to offer. But assuming that God will only reveal God’s self in expected places and through expected people might be why the Magi weren’t accompanied by hundreds of faithful Jews eager to see the Messiah.
It is my prayer that I might recognize the Magi in my own life. Who are the outsiders, the strangers, the foreigners around me? Who in my life has God sent on a journey that leads to Christ? I pray that I embrace the mystery and look for truth and wisdom in unfamiliar places. I pray that I am reminded to welcome the stranger–the outsider–knowing that they could very well have seen something that I have missed–something transformational.
May you feel the invitation to embark on the journey being laid out before you–even if the only guide is a distant star. And may you welcome the strangers and outsiders among you–and may they all play a part in leading you to an encounter with Christ.
Did you miss Week 1? No worries! You can find it Here.