Finding Faith: By another route

Alison Grove

“And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road” (Matthew 2:12, NRSV).

I can remember sitting in the back seat of the car when my family was traveling somewhere. Depending on where we were going either I or one of my brothers would ask, “Are we there yet?” Sometimes it’s hard to not be impatient when riding in the car for a long period of time. I suppose like any kid my desire was for my parents to take the fastest route so that we could have more time for fun.

During this Christmas season lots of people will be traveling for spending the holidays with family and friends and I’m sure amid the excitement there will be a moan for “Are we there yet?”

Our world is certainly different from the ancient world where three wise men traveled a long distance to see a tiny boy born in Bethlehem and lying in a manger. It’s the story for the wise men who came a long distance for seeing the Christ child.

Scripture tells us that these wise men each sitting in their own country saw a star in the east and upon seeing the star hopped on their camels and began the journey to Bethlehem for following the star in the night sky. Some Bible scholars say it took these three men nearly two years for making their way to Bethlehem. If that is the case, then the baby Jesus would have been a toddler.

The city of Jerusalem which is only about —————————- miles away from Bethlehem, King Herod summoned the wise men to meet with him.

The King wanted to learn the whereabouts of the child so that he too could worship the Christ child. But here is what I think is the intriguing part to the story.

All three wise men knowing who King Herod was and the kind of reputation he carried as the king, all three had a strong sense that they must not pass through Jerusalem on their way home. No road in their day was a perfect straight shot back to home wherever home was for them. The roads in their time were often rugged and rocky terrain to cover while riding on a camel. The roads were often dangerous for traveling alone and during the night.

As a child I wasn’t a fan of being on a back road to our house. Yes, we eventually got home but it sure felt as though it took forever. But for these magi or wise men what back road did they take as they skirted around Jerusalem? How long did it take them for returning home since they had to take a detour?

Christmas and the season for Epiphany (this time after Christmas before Ash Wednesday comes) is a wonderful time to consider what kind of detours have you been on lately? What detours in life have taken you away from a relationship with God, taken you away from other people, or have made your heart bitter about something?

The good news of the Christmas and Epiphany season is that Christ was born for you. This tiny child born in a stinky stable was born so that you might have life, abundant life, always.

Is this now the time in your life for finding your way home to a place where God in Christ will always love you passionately? It’s good news anytime we can be finding ourselves coming home even if it means coming home by another way.

Matthew 2:1-12, John 10:10


Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Alison W. Grove, pastor of Covenant and Faith United Methodist Churches, Lock Haven.