The Longest Trip

Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

(Matthew 2:1–2, NET) 

It was the longest trip in the world for a couple of youngsters. Two whole days before Christmas and we still had to drive three hundred miles to Grandma’s house in Saint Jo, Texas. Those miles separated me from everything that smacked of Christmas: the place—Grandma’s house, smelling like Dial soap and musty woolen blankets just released from mothball-filled trunks.

The people—Grandma, the matriarch of our tiny Scots/Presbyterian clan. Uncle Deb, who chopped a young pine for our yearly Christmas tree. Uncle Luke and his tribe, including my see-them-once-a-year cousins, Luke and Krista.

The presents—brightly wrapped, stacked in piles under the sparkling tree.

Waiting for us.

My sister, Debbie, and I played games and counted telephone poles. Finally, we fell asleep to the static of Dad trying to find Perry or Bing or Nat on our AM radio, singing about roasting chestnuts out in the middle of the north Texas plains. Then, out of the darkness we would hear, “Kids, look!” and we stared through sleepy eyes at the distant lights of Saint Jo, conveniently located directly below the starry expanse of the Milky Way.

Then there were the Magi. They started out in Persia and counted telephone poles for six hundred miles, give or take.

We holiday travelers have become distracted by the ornaments of Christmas—the place, the people, and the presents. But the Magi regarded these as means to a greater end: a  place—the birthplace of the King. A people—the Jews, and for a particular Person among them.  And they brought presents—to offer the new King.

These Gentiles weren’t looking for a light as we looked for the lights of Saint Jo. They followed a light. And, at the end of their journey, they found the Light of the World. Jesus Christ—conveniently located under a single shining star.

Waiting for us.