Talk for Epiphany 6th Jan 2013
do you like journeys?
What is the best part?
The preparation – the actual journey – getting there
over Christmas most of us have been on at least one journey.
Where was it to? Was it fun? Did you enjoy it?
While thinking of this I remembered how when we were young we would go for driving treasure hunts with others from my fathers place of work.
We would be given a clue which would lead us to a place where we would be given another and so on. Eventually you would arrive at the end and have a picnic together having driven around for some hours.
We never did well but I do remember that the journey was fun as we had no idea where we were going but that there would be a party when we got there.
Over Christmas We all went on a journey to rediscover the story of Christ’s birth.
Today’s readings looked at just two journeys those of the wise men and Abram at different ends of the bible but still linked.
There are many other stories of journeys in the bible can you name a few?
The exodus from Egypt. The exile to Babylon and then the return.
The journey’s of Mary and Joseph. The journey of the early followers of Jesus.
The journeys of Paul.
These are just a few of them.
So no surprise we are going to look at journeys in particular our journey with God.
Do you know when your journey started?
Do you know where you are going with it?
Do you know how you are getting there?
Do you know when you will arrive?
Do you know where you are on this journey?
So 5 questions lets look at them together.
1 – Do you know when your journey started?
It seems to me that most peoples journey with God started with listening, hearing His genial voice calling.
Sometimes that is just the call of the world around us, showing us that there is more to the world than just us, that there is something wonderful behind all of what surrounds us.
Sometimes like with the wise men it is a sign something which just points us in the right direction even though we do not fully understand it.
Sometimes it is literally hearing the call of God as Abram did, although I suspect that he was already listening to God before that having discerned Him in the world around him.
Sometimes like with the early followers it was someone else telling them to ‘Come and See’. Like the shepherds or the first disciples.
John 1 43-44 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. When he got there, he ran across Philip and said, “Come, follow me.” 45-46 Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, “We’ve found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It’s Jesus, Joseph’s son, the one from Nazareth!” Nathanael said, “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding.”
But Philip said, “Come, see for yourself.”
However what ever way you got there you started your journey.
For us as children it was with the first clue.
2 – Do you know where you are going with it?
I suspect not, you might have a rough idea, but like the wise men or Abram no sure destination is in sight, you have been called onto a path with only a vague idea of where it will lead.
If you think about the exodus or the first followers none of them knew where they would end up all they had was a promise.
17God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.
As I said already we knew that there would be a party at the end.
3 – Do you know how you are getting there?
now this is getting more intense, usually when we plan a trip we work out how to get there, but when we travel Gods path that is not so.
we just start walking with Him and need to trust that He will supply the means of travel.
Think about your life journey with God, how has he supplied the means of travel?
The means could be the Christian group around you, the stranger you meet, your bible reading, Church or any number of other things.
As children we got there because our father drove us around the course.
Often in circles
4 – Do you know when you will arrive?
traveling with God is unlike any other journey as there is only one way to arrive and that is when we die and join Him.
Now that is not to say that we should want to die but just that we will know our journeys end.
As children we never knew when we would arrive and sometimes that is very difficult to live with.
5 – Do you know where you are on this journey?
on our journeys these days we have sat-navs to tell us where we are and how we are doing on the journey.
We didn’t have that when we were young nor mobiles to phone for help, it was just the clue and a map.
so what is our sat-nav on our journey with God?
I would say Jesus, he laid out a path for us to follow, a path He used His own life to show us.
The wise men followed there star, we have Jesus to follow.
Moses had the pillar of smoke, we have Jesus.
We also have Gods word to guide us.
where are you now?
I think it is quite important as we enter a new year to take time to look back at our journey with God and ask ourselves some questions about it.
Have I journeyed as Jesus did?
Have I treated those I have met on my path as Jesus did?
Have I learnt something new from Jesus or those I have journeyed with?
Have I helped those I met see Jesus?
Do I need some questions answered or some help on this journey, remember the wise men looked for help and guidance as did the disciples.
Having done that we then need to reflect on how we aim to continue the journey.
Has our journey come to a halt at some point as we have stopped travelling?
Think of Peter when he denied Christ
Has our way of life meant that God has been put on hold.
Has our journey gone backwards as we search for things in the past or hold on to them?
Have we gone back to old habits, if so what do we need to do about them.
are we holding on to people and things which drag us away from God
Have we lost the path? Judas would be in this group.
it is so easy to take a wrong turn and then be to stubborn to admit it.
There is one question we have not looked at and what is this journey, why would you want to be on it?
so what is this journey?
For the wise men it was to see what the star foretold, to see what God had brought about.
For Abram it was the promise of a future where his family would be as great as the sands, that he would be part of Gods family.
For the disciples it was wow!! this is God, but even then they didn’t get it right all the time, just read the stories of there journeys.
For me its trying to be more as Christ wants me to be, not worrying about what others think of me but caring what Christ thinks of me. it’s about trying to love and care for others as Jesus loves and cares for me. about having a relationship with the Father through His son. Its about getting to know God better.
Now sometimes I am better at this than others but it is a journey and I am making it with God.
So this journey with God is a journey of life it is not just a once a week or once a month thing, nor is it a journey where you can not start again from where you are. Just think of the wise men there journey must have taken quite a time, they would have had to stop for rests, for directions and when it was overcast to wait for it to clear so they could see the star.
If we get lost or drop backwards we can start again by coming to see Jesus and asking for His help.
Its a bit like crashing the car except God allows us to continue as if we hadn’t
From UCB word for today – You are not the only one who got married and then wanted a divorce, or lost control and lashed out, or quit a job and now doesn’t have a job to go to. This is important to know, because it takes away your feeling of isolation and enables you to overcome self-pity. It also helps you to say, ‘If others made it, then by God’s grace I can too.’ Perhaps you wonder if God is judging you, or the devil is attacking you, or if you did something to bring it on yourself. No, it’s just part of life’s journey! You’ll notice in Scripture that God doesn’t whitewash His heroes. He doesn’t exempt the people He uses from struggle and sorrow. ‘These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us…'(1 Corinthians10:11 NIV). Every age and every stage of life brings a different test, and a different level of testing. You can’t pray away the tests of life, or quote Scripture and make them disappear. God never promised you a trouble-free trip to heaven. Jesus said, ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33 NIV).
How do we in this day and age follow this journey, well we can do Alpha courses, take part in the new Discipleship course, get support from being part of a cell group. All these allow us to ask questions as we journey together.