Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)
Chapter 2In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, Verse 2asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." Verse 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; Verse 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. Verse 5They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: Verse 6'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" Verse 7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Verse 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage."
Verse 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. Verse 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. Verse 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Verse 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
I got it in my head that a retreat I was attending was the first Thursday and Friday of November, so I packed my bag and made the 1.5-hour trip to the retreat center, only to learn I was a week early. I had received plenty of emails with the date, but the previous year the retreat had been the first week in November, so, in my mind, it must be the same this year.
The wise men had a specific destination in mind when they traveled to worship the newborn king: the palace in Jerusalem. I wonder if they were embarrassed when the king had no idea what they were talking about. The birth of Jesus took everyone by surprise.
But the wise men found it to be true, and we will too — God is still good at showing up when and where we least expect.
Almighty God, you often show up in my life at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. Tune the eyes of my heart that I might see you when you come to me. Amen.