Saturday, 9 January 2016

Home by Another Way

Ever since the new star went up on Signal Hill – the one that shines so brightly across our city I’ve been thinking about the Magi – the wise men. The ones who saw an ancient star. The ones who were so wise that the people thought they were magic. The ones who knew the meaning of every star in the sky and couldn’t believe it when they saw a new one at its rising. The ones who wondered what all this could mean. Should they follow it? Should they see where it was leading them? Perhaps they wondered what people would think about embarking on this journey to an unknown destination. 
And yet they went. Their wondering led them to walking and a journey like no other. Their story – taking a chance on that unknown path reminds me of Mary and Joseph.  When they said yes to God’s promise about their child they had no idea what it would mean for them – and yet they too left behind all that was familiar to follow in God’s way. They left their home in Nazareth to travel a strange city to be registered and then fearing for their lives they journeyed to Egypt. The sign at St. Mark’s Church before Christmas said it well, “Christmas: A story about a Middle East Family Seeking Refuge.” It reminds me of the Syrian refugees who arrived this week and indeed of all the refugees who come to Canada leaving behind all that is familiar to travel to a foreign land hoping for a new life. Like the Magi the set out not knowing what the future would hold but they go anyway – following that star that shines so brightly or following a dream or seeking hope.
It is a story that we can understand as a congregation. Our church family made the bold choice to follow an unknown path – to follow that star, that hope, that dream. No church in the city has done what you’ve done. It’s a decision that means uncertainty and traveling new directions – like worshipping here. It means living with a bit of uncertainty and lots of questions and as with anything new fears. As we head down this new road, no doubt there will be other firsts and new things along the way. 
So today we begin our journey. We are as a church family worshipping in a different place. And it is not familiar. It is not our church home. But as it says in the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips “Hold on to me as we go. As we roll down this unfamiliar road, and although this wave is stringing us along. Just know you’re not alone. Cause I’m going to make this place your home.” This is our church home for the next few months.  And we are not alone. We have one another, the hospitality of our friends here at St. John’s Seventh-day Adventist Church and a God who is always with us helping us down this unfamiliar road. 
In the story of the Magi who travelled their own unfamiliar road we find a story of faith and blessings. Listen to what it says in Matthew, “When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. “(Matthew 2:10 – 12)
There is the joy of arrival. There is the gift of finding what you’d been searching for and meeting the holy child. There is the moment they offered prayers and blessings. But like any journey, it leaves a mark on your lives and the Magi go home differently. Jan Richardson describes the story this way in her poem called, “The Blessing of the Magi”

There is no reversing
this road.
The path that bore you here
goes in one direction only,
every step drawing you
down a way
by which you will not

You thought arrival
was everything,
that your entire journey
ended with kneeling
in the place
you had spent all
to find.

When you laid down
your gift,
release came with such ease,
your treasure tumbling
from your hands
in awe and

Now the knowledge
of your leaving
comes like a stone laid
over your heart,
the familiar path closed
and not even the solace
of a star
to guide your way.

You will set out in fear
you will set out in dream
but you will set out
by that other road
that lies in shadow
and in dark.
We cannot show you
the route that will
take you home;
that way is yours
and will be found
in the walking.
But we tell you
you will wonder
at how the light you thought
you had left behind
goes with you,
spilling from
your empty hands,
shimmering beneath
your homeward feet,
illuminating the road
with every step
you take.
As we embark on this journey into the unknown as a church family, there will be times of uncertainty and fear and there will be blessings all along the way. As we move into this new and uncertain time, we are reminded of that light the glows from the stable that brings hope and lights our path. God is with us as we go guiding us, supporting us and by faith we know that we are no alone. The light that guided the Magi so long ago on their journey guides us today. By God’s grace, with God’s help this unfamiliar road will be a blessing for our church family and for others as we build for the future. And so like so many before us we travel in faith and in hope. Thanks be to God. Amen. 

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