By: Maggie Leonard
Matthew 2. 1-12
Reflection—v. 3, ‘they went back to their own country by another route’
We expect paths to be straight, to be linear—at least I do. I like to have a plan, moving from one thing to another chronologically, always moving forward. When I take to the trails, I cling to my map and get nervous if I find myself off track. But somehow life isn’t that straightforward—particularly lives of faith. Like the wise men, I find that when I come face to face with God, it usually means a change of direction—I see myself in a new light or make new meaning of an experience. All these things put me on a new trajectory, hopefully a more loving, kinder, more compassionate, more merciful, more open avenue. Sometimes I find that my path loops back around, helping me to understand new meaning in familiar concepts or stories. Other times I’m led into new territory. After meeting God, I’m never quite sure what is next, but this squiggly path has been a wonderfully transformative one.
Prayer Holy God, I like my plans. I like feeling like I’m moving forward. Open me to new journeys that deepen my understanding and bring me closer to love.
By: Chad Hyatt
Reflection—v. 3, ‘…all of us…’
Lent calls us to ponder once more the unbounded breadth of God’s love. Paul’s distancing ‘you’ soon gives way to the more inclusive ‘all of us.’ As church folks used to say, there are ‘no big I’s and little you’s.’ In God’s lavish mercy, there are no ‘righteous’ and ‘sinners,’ no ‘Jews’ and ‘Gentiles’–and, for us, no ‘homeless’ and ‘housed.’ Labels that kept us apart no longer exist in God’s ‘all of us.’ We are all sinners, and by grace, we are all righteous. Far from removing the urgent need of housing for all of us, we are reminded we share in a common struggle together. All of us are broken. All of us struggle. All of us are bound to a way of walking in the world that is destructive. But absolutely all of us–as absolute as our brokenness and struggle are absolute–belong to God. In Jesus, we have found a new way of walking–toward life, in freedom, and with God.
Prayer God of lavish mercy, all of us have been lost, and all of us are being found in you.
Reflection—v.3, ‘When King Herod heard this, he was frightened’
I wish God’s angels would have been a part of the announcement of Jesus’ birth to Herod. The angels reminded Luke’s shepherds, ‘Don’t be afraid!’ What a difference there is in these two responses to the news of Jesus’ birth. The shepherds fled from the fields on the spot and left the Christ child praising God. Fearful Herod stayed at home behind his safe, palatial walls and became more and more scared, until he lashed out to calm his anxieties and killed all the baby Jewish boys. Oh, what terrible things we will do when acting from a place of fear—like Herod we are liable to lie or to cheat to try and maintain our place of comfort, ultimately killing the possibilities for life that are before us. May we be more like Luke’s shepherds or Matthew’s wandering magi—open to the adventure of the journey, content to lay gifts at the feet of another.
Lord of Angels, may we hear of new life and run towards it. Help us not to be afraid, so that we may not hide or, worse still, strike out against it and others.