Last Tuesday my mum was due to fly back home. Because of uncertain weather conditions I decided to go to Glasgow a day before the flight and stay there overnight. The plan seemed to be perfect until its very end when the flight was cancelled because of the gale. We had to come back to Buckie. Miraculously we got home despite trees and lorries lying across the roads. The wind was so strong I felt I was flying a plane rather than driving a car. The second attempt two days later was successful.
During bad weather we hear the police advising ‘not to travel unless absolutely necessary’. Although the same message was repeatedly broadcast on Tuesday the roads I was travelling were not empty. Apparently people driving on them had their own necessities important enough to challenge the gale winds. I’m absolutely certain that many of those necessities would have seemed unimportant for someone else.
A long and dangerous journey of the three wise men might have seemed unimportant and unnecessary for some of their relatives and friends. That journey wouldn’t have brought any military, economical or political effects – because they were looking for an infant-king. Oddly enough, neither the place nor the exact situation of the baby was certain. They were to follow ‘a star’ that apparently was much more unreliable than a sat-nav. Yet from their point of view the journey was essential, worthy of taking every effort and risk.
In our world many people have given up with God for many different reasons. Some of them just abandoned religious practices, while keeping a vague intuition of ‘supernatural’. Others reject religion wilfully as something either ridiculous or dangerous – or both. But there are people who treat a religious aspect of their lives as an essential part. In the windy walks of life they follow moral directions perceived by others as real as the Bethlehem star – unrealistic and old-fashioned.
When the three wise men reached the destination of their journey they found nothing special, nothing extraordinary: rather, an average family with a baby wearing a nappy. Quite likely their neighbours were surprised to see noblemen entering Mary and Joseph’s house. But for the three men it was a life changing experience that happened in their hearts. Similarly we come to the church looking for God. Outwardly we just find a man in rather strange attire standing behind a table and giving us a wafer. But for us this is a life changing experience; God speaks to us and gives his Son’s body and blood as food of imperishable life. Strengthened by God’s word and by spiritual food we come back to our average yet unique life. Visually nothing changes; but inside we become different people. Or do we?