By Bruce G. Epperly
And the magi, having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, left for their own country by another road. ~ Matthew 2:12
These words capture the spirituality of Epiphany—"going home by another road." Epiphany is about the unexpected: unexpected joys and synchronicities and unexpected challenges and tragedies. Epiphany is filled with unexpected revelations that change our minds and ways. These days, many pastors and their congregants are going by another road than they expected; the economic downturn and institutional uncertainties have left many people anxious and others downsized from positions they expected to be more permanent. Recently, I met with a group of Associate Pastors, all of whom were uncertain whether they would have positions following their congregation's annual meeting. And, just over a month ago, my seminary administrative position was eliminated as a result of institutional restructuring. While I was aware of the economic uncertainties that might affect my position, the timing caught me by surprise. Now I must face the future, traveling on a different road with a different timetable than I had expected.
In Epiphany, the magi take another road home; Peter discovers that God's grace is wider than he ever imagined; and the disciples experience Jesus as transfigured, like Moses, on the mountaintop and then, to their chagrin, realize that beyond the transfiguration stands a cross on the horizon.
Eventually, all of us take routes that we had never expected to travel, whether these involve changes in employment, health, relational, or economic status. When life forces us from the familiar highway onto an uncharted path, we are challenged to experience holiness as we travel on another road. The path is seldom easy, but within the real limitations of life, we may discover unexpected possibilities for vocation, mission, and transformation.
Read the rest of this article at Patheos.
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