As I was driving through my hometown after New Years’ Day, I noted that in the town circle, maintenance crews were already in a cherry picker taking the Christmas lights off the giant evergreen that had been decorated. Throughout Yonkers, we will be beginning to see Christmas trees at the curbs; post-Christmas sales are already in full swing. School starts again on Monday (congratulations parents, you made it!)
And well, for the religious minded among us, mark your calendars: just a month and a half to Ash Wednesday!
Yet in this place – right here – our crèche still adorns the altar. The baby still rests in the manger, Mary and Joseph still keep watch, and the wise men arrive today as we celebrate the Epiphany.
And the Epiphany – the manifestation of Jesus – brings the Good News that though the trappings of Christmas have fallen away, the Father is only getting started with his Son. The arrival of the Magi only signals the next step in the story of God’s love for the world. Indeed, today’s Feast signals that God’s love for the world is even greater than the prophets could have imagined. Jesus the Christ comes not just for the chosen people but for the Gentiles too (that’s you and me!).
If the Father, however, is only getting started from the Son, that begs an interesting question. What will God be up to with us as we walk away from the manger today?
If the Magi went home by another way to avoid Herod, having been changed by their encounter with Christ, how will we, leaving here, go home by another way?
The prophet Isaiah gives us some clear ideas: now that the glory of God has shined upon us, we are called to let the nations “walk by [our] light.” Yes, the prophet realizes that there are many places in which “darkness covers the earth” and “thick clouds cover the peoples” but God’s glory shines on us through his Christ.
Indeed, as we depart here we are called to let the light that has shined on us now shine through us to other people. After encountering Christ, we are called to lead others to encounter.
The “other way” is not something complicated. It may be as simple as:
(1) Inviting someone to church who hasn’t been in a while;
(2) Seeking out someone in our family or community who has been or feels forgotten; or
(3) Considering what gifts we have to bring to others – perhaps it is volunteering, perhaps it is committing to our food pantry, or something completely different.
The bottom line is this: having met Christ, the Magi went home by another way; let’s do the same. However, it’s not just another way we’re going, it’s Christ’s Way. Let’s get moving.