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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Today’s Scripture ReadingMatthew 2:1–12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 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. (NRSV)

“Go and search carefully for the child.” I’d like to believe there was a better road map than a star and more information provided about the intended location. Nonetheless, even with better information this must have seemed like an impossible task for the magi. Yet the magi left on their journey of discovery with, perhaps, little idea where it would take them or what they would find. Only the hope of a positive end. 

My father finds himself on a journey battling cancer for the second time. The initial shock was painful and frightening. My mother cried, my sisters cried, and, of course, I cried. The most difficult moment was seeing my father consider forgoing treatment. I’m sure that brief moment was a mix of fear of failure, fear of unnecessary pain, and in his words “not wanting to be a burden to his family.”

None of us knows what this journey will entail or how exactly it will end. However, I’m extremely grateful for my family (and my in-laws!) all agreeing that we would navigate this journey together. People have taken time off from work, sent gifts, and sacrificed to support my father during this difficult time. While on this journey, I believe we have regained a familial intimacy that had dissipated due to time and distance. We’ve had direct and frank conversations about our feelings and the future and shared in a way that wasn’t previously required.

While successful surgery and ongoing chemotherapy provide a positive prognosis, we know that nothing is promised. We can only hope and pray for a positive end. We will continue to rely on our faith, each other, and our friends no matter where this journey takes us.

Almighty God, please grant us discernment to navigate life’s journeys. We do not know when they will begin or what they will require of us. And we do not know what we may encounter or learn along the way. We certainly do not know how the journey will end. However, we do know that you will always be by our side, helping us each step of the way. In your name we pray. Amen.

Written by Cornell Wilson, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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