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Traveling far

Matthew 2:1–12

For more commentary on this week's readings, see the Reflections on the Lectionary page, which includes Truax's current Living by the Word column as well as past magazine and blog content. For full-text access to all articles, subscribe to the Century.

At some point I picked up the idea that wiser Christians ask fewer questions. That somehow they pick up “the answers” somewhere along the way. More mature Christians could always find The Answer in the Bible, no matter how remote the question might be. And, speaking of questions, that’s one thing real Christians wouldn’t have. Or at least, I wouldn’t know it if they did.

It’s refreshing to remember that some of the first visitors to the manger are likely Arabs, people who may know little about Jewish prophecy but a lot about how to read the stars. People who are willing to freely admit what they don’t know. Both coming and going, they seek guidance, direction. They trust the knowledge they have but with humility, recognizing that there is much they don’t know. 

When they are told to go home by a different way, they do it. They don’t pretend they have it figured out. They are willing to keep being directed, led, prodded and pushed in a new direction. 

And they aren’t just willing to adjust their journey. They are willing to adjust it together. None of the astrologers goes on this journey as a solitary wanderer. They travel with a few likeminded others. They tether themselves to finding out, what does this thing mean? They collect their information and pool it together to sort a path, to establish their coordinates. They don’t assume a journey of this importance would be undertaken alone. 

But we do. Often. Some of us have a difficult time traveling with others. We think they are going to slow us down, hold us back, keep us from our destiny. There’s an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”

The magi traveled far. Likely our churches are called to do the same.

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