"Where is the baby born to be the ruler of the Jews? For we have
seen his star rising in the East and have come to worship him."
Whether they ever really existed, or whether they are figures of legend fashioned in Matthew the gospel writer's imagination, the three who came from a distant land to visit an infant Jesus were persons of science, persons of some high regard in their own country. They may even have been royal advisors for their nation. What is intriguing about this story is that they set out on a vision quest because of some unusual celestial phenomenon. They did not know exactly where they were headed other than "the land of the Jews". They did not know how long it would take. They certainly were not particularly clear about who or what they would find there.
When they did arrive they were greeted and questioned by a Roman puppet ruler named Herod who gave them the weebie-jeebies. The "star" they had followed directed them elsewhere - to a little house much less regal, much less permeated by a passion for overpowering. They found a somewhat elderly father, a young mother (we would say 'teenaged'), and a new-born baby. They worshipped as they had intended. They left gifts that may have had some significance. They didn't stay long.
"And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they returned to their country by an alternate route." (Matthew 2:12)
The implication is that they too were changed. Their future outlook and orientation to life -- to politics, economics, religion, science, and personal behaviour -- would shift. And did.
Transition times are like that. They carry us from where we were to where we yet might be. They invite us to travel alternate routes. They invite us to live into a new and different vision. Marshall Memorial United, welcome to the year 2018! Welcome to continuing down your road of transition in ministry and mission.