The journey of the Magi is a journey of discernment, vision and trust – it is deeply a faith journey. It is a journey of transformation.
It is not an easy journey. T.S. Eliot wrote in his poem, “Journey of the Magi”:
“‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
“… All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had though they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.”
The Magi undertook a journey that was wearisome, troublesome, dangerous, and unseasonable to follow the star to the Christ child.
We join the Magi on this sacred journey—not just merely a geographical adventure but a pilgrimage experience—a search for a deeper place. The pilgrimage to Bethlehem is a privileged time and space for discovery, discernment, and illumination. It is a journey of conversion which leads to transformation. The magi follow the star. Without truly knowing where they are going, they seek the way in prayer and contemplation.
Having drawn near to the Divine, they are now transformed by the experience of the Christ child in the manger and ready to live in a completely new and reflective way. Touched and nourished by God’s very being, the Magi now return home ready to face the routine of life with new hope and purpose. They can now see the extraordinary in the ordinary and take notice of life in wonder. Their inward search has led them to a life of paying homage, a song of praise and gratitude.
Like the Magi, we too are led to Jesus. We are invited to come close to the borders of Mystery and search for God in the stable of our hearts. We are called to undertake a spiritual journey. The journey is indeed full of dangers and obstacles. The way is not easy, and all along there are temptations to give up the trip all together. Faith will not come easily, and transformation happens when we are willing to let those voices that proclaim it all to be folly to recede to the background as we press onward.
As the transformed seekers, the Magi travel home “by another road.” This is the constant invitation and challenge of the journey of the Magi.
We move in Advent towards Christmas and Epiphany in the pilgrimage experience, as disciples and as community. We seek to prayerfully travel the path to which God is leading us—in prayer, in commitment, and in sharing of insights to enrich the community of faith here at First Presbyterian Church, as well as our sisters and brothers in the faith of the One crucified, risen, and ascended.