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“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem.” Matthew 2:1

Last year at this time, I had no idea that in just a few months we would be in a pandemic that would change our lives significantly for the remainder of the year. Last January 1st, I had no idea that General Conference would be postponed and that important decisions regarding the future of our beloved church would be delayed. The twists and turns 2020 took were unprecedented and unimaginable just one short year ago.

When the wisemen began their journey to Jesus, they did not know exactly where they were going or what would happen on the way. These non-Jewish astrologers did not know the Scriptures or proficiencies. God spoke to them in a language they understood, through the stars and planets, and sent them on a journey toward Jesus. The miraculous thing about this story to me is that even though they knew very little that was ahead of them including their exact destination, they set out in faith on the journey God pointed them toward. Some scholars say it might have taken them two years to complete the trip across the desert. Matthew doesn’t give us any details of their journey in his gospel, but one has to believe there were challenges, setbacks, and struggles that come with any long journey. I suspect there were also joys, wonders, and surprises along the way. Can you imagine the beauty of the night sky in the dark of the desert?

Like the wisemen in the story in Matthew, we don’t know where the journey of 2021 will lead us. I think we are all praying it will turn out to be a very different year from the last one. We hope that our lives will resume to some semblance of normal as the vaccines are given to wider circles of people and we can begin to gather in-person again. There is still uncertainty about General Conference as the virus continues to restrict our travel. What work has the Spirit been doing with this additional time? How will our decisions and outcomes change because of what we have experienced over the last year? What challenges, setbacks, and struggles will we endure? What joys, wonders, and surprises will this year hold for us?

The wisemen stepped out in faith watching for God’s leading. As they journeyed, how many times did they have to correct their course? How many obstacles did they have to overcome? How often did they have to push through despair or impatience? We know that however often they had to correct their course, with God’s leading they got to the Christ Child. We know that however many obstacles they encountered, with God’s help they overcame them. We know that however tired and discouraged they got or how impatiently they traveled, trusting in God’s starlit promise, they journeyed on until they could offer their gifts to the Christ. As we begin the journey of 2021, let us commit to the faithfulness and persistence of the wisemen. Let us journey as they did, searching for God’s leading, moving tenaciously step by step, asking for help along the way, being sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings. Wherever this journey of 2021 leads us, we know we journey with the Christ as our companion, our Savior and our Lord as well as our destination. Let us begin this journey in prayer.

Gracious God of all people, we trust that you love each of us without measure. In Jesus, you give yourself to us, and through the church, you give us each other to be companions on the road. As we journey through this new year, give us your guiding light when we lose our way. Give us your peace when our anxieties trouble us. Give us stories and memories of your faithfulness when we begin to despair. We seek all these things so that we may walk with you in strength and hope loving and serving you and our neighbor with every step every day. We pray this in the name of the Christ. Amen.

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