Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Magi

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. [Matthew 2:12 (KJV)]

Although the King James Version of the Bible is not one that I use regularly, I very much like how that translation concludes the story of the visit of the magi. I realize that the literal meaning of the text is that the magi took another route back to their own country, but I find in the words "another way" an invitation to consider how we are changed by our encounter with Jesus. Is it impossible for us to go about our lives in the same way as before? I hope so, but I am very much aware of my own resistance to being changed, of my strong desire to have things my way and not another way, not God's way.

During Christmastide I find myself confronted again with what J. B. Phillips described as the "almost frightening quietness and self-effacement," the "devastating humility" of "God’s intervening into human history" in the Incarnation. God chose to become one with us in our humanity, to become vulnerable like us, that we might become partakers of the divine nature, spirit-filled people, alive with the power of God's love. I cannot avoid the challenge that the Incarnation places before me. Will I allow the love which created the universe, the love which led Jesus to the cross, will I allow that love to become flesh and blood in me? Will I return from Bethlehem transformed, journeying on another way?

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