Yesterday I returned home from a week long break. The planes were fairly crowded; the airports were, too. We are a society of wanderers. The gift of easy travel (despite how it feels sometimes) has taken us far from the homes of our childhoods. Sometimes this frees us to be who we know we are. Sometimes it removes us from our anchors. We have become wanderers, pilgrims, nomads - even homeless. I wonder how different our wandering is from the journey of the magi, who set off to find the King of kings, the Christ child. Our wanderings may feel more like meanderings than journeys, but I believe we all set off for a reason. It's this reason that determines whether we are aimlessly meandering or wandering with a purpose...journeying, if you will.
I'm too tired to write much about this, but as I climbed aboard the plane yesterday to cross time zones, mountains, and over a thousand miles, I knew that I was crossing more than geography. I left behind the family with whom I share a history that stretches to the beginning of humankind. While I love the life that I've chosen and that I've worked hard to establish, I know that I, like many others, live a somewhat dislocated life. Maybe my dreams will make this more clear for me. All I know is that as I think of the magi this Epiphany I think of some books on my bookshelf, including "The Homeless Mind" by Peter Berger and "Cadences of Home: Preaching Among Exiles" by Walter Brueggemann.
Note to those not raised with a liturgical calendar: Epiphany, for those in the Western Church, ends the Christmas cycle. It is the feast day on which we remember the arrival of the magi. While pictoral representations typically show three "wise men," the Bible doesn't enumerate them nor does it name them. Tradition has given them the names Gaspar, Malchior, and Balthazar, and they have come to represent the gentile's, i.e. non-Jewish people's, recognition of Jesus as the Anointed One, the King of kings. One this day we celebrate the hope of the entire world worshiping the God of peace. The origin, calendar date, and meaning of Epiphany differs between the Eastern Church and the Western Church. The meaning has also changed over time. But, for all intents and purposes, Epiphany marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas, is followed by Baptism of the Lord, and then we begin "Ordinary Time" or "Kingdomtide."
So...as I celebrate this feast day I will also celebrate those who have given me life and love and those with whom I seek that now. I remember that Christ came and offered all people home in the covenant community. And I hold a hope for the Church that we will provide a place of belonging and home for all who come searching for it.
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