Narrative Lectionary Reflection
January 6, 2019
In the summer of 1984, I was fourteen. I was part of the cross-country team in high school, and the coach thought it would be a good idea to go up to a state park in northern Michigan to train before school started. I should state that I am NOT the world’s best runner. I wasn’t then, and as I am not now. During the evenings, we would walk from the campground to the lodge, which was probably a good mile or two away. We would hang out and play pool and listen to the radio. When we were done and headed back, we made our way down a very, very dark road. It was scary, but I knew I wasn’t alone, so I could deal with it.
Well, one evening, we were at the lodge and I stepped away for a bit. When I came back, my fellow teammates were gone. They had met some local girls and decided to head down to the lake. I was alone and I didn’t know what to do. I could try to follow them down the tricky path to the lake, or I could just walk back to the campground. Neither option was that pleasant, but I went for door number two and started walking back to the campground.
Did I say walking? I meant running for dear life. The road was pitch black and I could not see in front of me. I probably did my best mile ever. Here I was running alone in the darkness. I was incredibly scared.
At some point, I saw a light. I felt a sense of relief. I went to the door and knocked. A woman came to the door and I frantically explained my situation and asked for a ride to the campground. I didn’t want to continue on this dark road. For whatever reason, the woman did not offer much help except to say that I was not far from the campground. So proceeded on the dark road. I saw a small glimmer of light ahead that broke through the darkness. I kept running and the light grew and multiplied. I started to give thanks to God as I realized I was nearing the campground. I was finally home and the complete darkness was replaced by the warm glow of a campfire.
In our world today, there are many like the Wise Men who are looking for Christ, looking for the light. They are our loved ones, our friends and our workmates. Sometimes they come to our churches wanting to seek Christ. What will they find here? Will they find Christ or will it be a Herod and the priests, who seemed to be more interested in worldly things than in the things of God?
Christ is present in the world. The way most people know of Jesus is not simply the words found in the Bible but in the lives of Christians. When we publicly live as Christ would have us to live, people are drawn to the presence of God.
The light of Christ is in the world, but it can only be known when those who dare to call themselves Christians are living in the light.
When the Wise Men finally found Jesus, they gave gifts and worshiped him. So it is when today’s Magi find Christ, they will give worship to Christ when they see it happening. And they should see that happening in the gathered community of believers called the church.
When I was 14, that light shining in the distance have me hope. When the Magi finally found the baby Jesus they were filled with joy. So should it be when people encounter God’s followers. When the encounter a place where they are welcomed and loved; a place where they are fed when hungry, clothed when naked, befriended when lonely.
Arise and shine, for your light has come.
Dennis Sanders is the Pastor at First Christian Church of St. Paul in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. He’s written for various outlets including Christian Century.