Summary: The talk for our 2013 Advent Carol service in which I invite people to think about the journey of the Wise men, and to consider where they are in their own life journey.
Where are you in your life-journey? As we sing about God’s ancient master-plan to save us and to show us the extent of his love where are you in your journey of discovery? As we think about searching for Jesus, where is He? Where is Jesus in your life today?
I’ve had some hairy journeys in my 45 years – and by hairy journeys I don’t mean the moustache growing month of November! Our team of 9 raised about £1000 for men’s health charities, raising awareness and seeking to help men when life gets tough due to cancer or depression. If the journey of life is hard right now I believe God wants to walk with you.
I love that song by Matt Redman: “I can see a light that is coming; for the heart that holds on; there will be an end to these troubles but until that day comes; still I will praise you; still I will praise you” (from Matt Redman’s ‘Even though I walk through the valley’)!
My hairiest journey ever was when the engine in my car gave up in the outside lane of the M25 20 years ago. As my speed began to drop rapidly I made my way towards the hard shoulder, narrowly avoiding a coach in the inside lane and only just making it before the engine seized up and the car juddered to a halt. Of course there have also been punctured tyres, fellow drivers have crunched my car from behind, ice has caused me to skid and slide, and recently I watched as a crack slowly grew across the windscreen as we returned to Billericay on the M25!
What’s happening in your life-journey right now? The journey of faith for the wise men started before they noticed the bright star in the sky. Their journey to find and then meet with Jesus was not a simple one. A remarkable star caused them to head towards Jerusalem to search for a new born King; and when they arrived they had to stop and ask for directions (Matthew 2:2). King Herod tried to trick them (2:7-8).
But when they discovered Jesus ‘they bowed down and worshipped him’. Later, ‘having been warned in a dream not to go back to [King] Herod, they returned to their country by another route’; an unexpected detour.
Mary and Joseph’s journey of faith was thrown into confusion when Mary discovered she was pregnant as a result of God’s Spirit conceiving Jesus within her. Engagement to Joseph took on an unexpected direction but they put their trust in God. After Jesus was born, Mary, Joseph and Jesus fled suddenly to Egypt. They didn’t move house or move to the next town they left the country! They became refugees in Egypt, seeking temporary asylum to escape from King Herod (Matthew 2:13-20). Their journey of life and faith was not safe, easy and comfortable. Far from it! So if you find yourself in a strange place, away from friends and family Jesus has been there too. By the time Jesus was 30 Joseph had died so he knows about bereavement. Jesus walked where we walk.
Where are you in your life journey? Would you like to experience the joy of the Wise Men who, when they encountered Jesus, ‘bowed down and worshipped him’ (Matthew 2:11)?
Engines give up, tyres get punctures and sometimes windscreens get cracked. They are hazards of the journey. This year I took my Grandma’s funeral. As a child I lived with her for a while so she was like an extra mother to me; but even though I’ve had tough times God has been with me every step of the journey – just like he wants to be with you in your journey.
Starting on Wednesday 15 January I’ll be running a 6 week course called Pilgrim – an opportunity to discover more about following Jesus. Let me or the church office know if you’d like to come; but in the meantime can I encourage you to be open to God in your life journey this Christmas? He wants to walk with you, in the joyful times and in the tough times!