Journey * An Advent Reflection

Photo by Ricardo Rocha on Unsplash

This Advent I’m delighted to bring you a variety of voices – authors, pastors, theologians, and philosophers – each of whom has a unique and beautiful take on a particular passage of Scripture related to the Advent season.

My prayer is that these reflections would help guide your devotional life as you participate in this season of holy waiting.

Without further ado, let’s continue with a reflection from author Bethany Rydmark. 

Journey * An Advent Reflection by Bethany Rydmark

Star of Wonder

After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. – Matthew 2:9-11, NASB

I wonder when the first thought of star-following struck the youngest wise man. What gripped him? What caused him to leave in pursuit of a promise? Did he know in his bones? Feel called to read maps in the skies? Did he hear older magi’s whispers of prophecy and yearn to learn more for himself?

Maybe the journey’s call appeared slowly, like a barely-thought question curling around his mind. Perhaps it struck as lightning—a bolt of inspiration from the heavenlies—an idea strong enough to jolt a life off one course and onto another.

Through mysteries of myth, the magi possessed hints of knowledge handed down through generations from the prophet Daniel: a star in the east, light leading to Light. Before the theoretical became visible, the priestly caste in Persia spent uncountable years and conversations contemplating foretellings, examining precious texts, and discussing in quiet groups.

And then in the sky, at last, a message.

An invitation. 

As their group prepared, anticipating the quest, I wonder what thrills and doubts hovered in the universe of the young magus’ mind. Visions of discovery? Worries over misapprehensions of star charts and trade routes, perhaps. Wild hope and searing fears, likely. I can imagine the constellation of optimism and puzzlement as he gathered supplies and treasures and spoke goodbyes to family and friends who wouldn’t dream of coming along.

I admire him.

More than a nodding ascent that the Light of the world was coming, I see his willing choice to pursue—to meet the Light in the world—beyond the edges of familiar territory.

Eyes open. Heart stretching.

Packed for the journey. Answering the call to seek in earnest.

The magi saw the star and departed, traversing field and fountain, moor and mountain—as the old hymn goes—at last arriving in Jerusalem, unsure and querying for the whereabouts of the promised one.

King Herod heard of the magi’s arrival and brought them to his palace for wining and dining as evening fell. Had the youngest wise man dared hope his journey might bring him to halls of opulence? Was this the glorious path of the star?

Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”  – Matthew 2:7-8, NASB

The star appeared again, guiding them finally to the sacred fulfillment of the ancient promise. To the mysterious, plain presence of a child.

As the magi bowed and gave gifts, perhaps the youngest wondered what to do with his story, with this ending. Who would want to know? Surely the wealthy, hospitable King who, too, claimed to seek the Light.

But not all seeking is as it seems. Not all quests for knowledge deserve an answer.

After finding the child under the star, perhaps the youngest wise man woke from sleep and spoke to his elders in whispers, sharing the Spirit’s warning and the new sign to follow.

And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.” – Matthew 2:12, NASB

Pursuit of the Light led past a corrupt king to a humble child.

Can we today bear the passage from familiar to foreign, the navigation through neighboring territories, the interactions with unfamiliar people groups and customs? The exploration of our own hearts? To depart for new territory when a sign appears and our spirits feel compelled to seek the Light?

In this season of Advent, let us anticipate the journey within our hearts. The response to invitation. The calling, the desire to leave where we stand and approach something new. May we follow the Spirit toward revelations, relationships, and a kinder world. May we listen closely for false voices and identify fool’s gold of shimmering palaces and evil intents. May we join the mystery of Light shining in darkness. May we guard our treasures, offering them with whole hearts to the small and true.

Bethany Rydmark Fall 2019 Headshot

Bethany Rydmark is a landscape architect, writer, world traveler, and an eighth generation Oregonian. She ate her way 50,000 miles around the world—and back home to NE Portland. Find her sharing life, landscapes, food, and travel at and on Instagram and Twitter.

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