First UMC Gonzales

Pastor's Note
From the desk of Rev. Steve Berger, Senior Pastor

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Finding our Way

One of the things that Thanksgiving and Christmas have in common for many families is the need to travel. Our
recent vacation, the week before Thanksgiving, took us to Texas where we traveled well known routes on the
big interstate highways and Texas state highways but also on some long country roads for side trips. We have
one of those plug-in G.P.S. devices (not the ones integrated into the dashboard display). We have had it for
several years and so there were times I didn't know whether to really trust it with directions, even though I had updated it before leaving. We would be traveling a wide, straight highway with clear sailing ahead and suddenly it would tell us to "exit right on Farm to Market Road 4530" or some such two-lane narrow, nearly gravel side road and more than once I found myself talking back to it as if it could hear me! One time it had us exit onto a feeder road with all but one lane closed and heavy traffic with long delays, another time onto a tollway with all but one lane closed and an hour delay. And so, it's hard to get around sometimes, even with high-tech satellite connected devices. Matthew 2:1-12 tells the strange and wonderful story about eastern mystics or "Magi" traveling to pay homage to the new born king of Israel. Without a G.P.S. device, they observed the heavens for signs of the miraculous happening in the world. We have read this story so many times and seen so many "Wise Men" figurines in nativity sets, that we don't really think about their long and perilous journey and the faith to keep following a sign from heaven no matter what. It is possible that these were not just three strangely dressed men coming to call but with the value of their gifts, perhaps an armed caravan entered Jerusalem that day. They certainly got King Herod's attention "and all Jerusalem with him" (Matt. 2:3). How did they find the "star"? Was it a planet, comet or super nova? Why did it seem to disappear and then move again? There are many theories, some of which you can view on YouTube about these questions. But before we get bogged down in the details, let's not lose sight of the undeterred faith and devotion of these wise men. What makes them wise beyond their knowledge of astronomy and far away cultures, is their willingness to move in the direction of God and his work in the world! They literally took steps of faith to move toward God's gift of Himself to the world. That is something that we can follow. That is a path for us as well. This Christmas season, look for what God is doing in your world, pray for how you might respond and be a part of His plan and then, like the Magi, put one foot in front of the other to boldly move in His direction!

Have a safe and blessed Advent and Christmas!
Pastor Steve