“And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.” Matthew 2:12 (NRSV)
I know not all Protestant traditions follow a liturgical calendar, but for those of us that do, we are currently in the aptly named Season after Epiphany.
Epiphany was celebrated by most Protestants on January 6th. It is the time when we celebrate when God made flesh in Jesus Christ was visited by three wise people. Before arriving to the birth place, the three wise ones visited Herod, Roman-appointed puppet governor of Judea. To make a long story short, Herod was threatened by the small baby Jesus because people were referring to the child as the King of the Jews. Herod killed many children in Judea in an effort to protect his power and the wise people decided to not revisit Herod, instead taking “another road.”
I think this is inherently a call from the Bible to be engaged in interfaith cooperation against the injustices of the world. The wise men, sometimes referred to as astrologers, were from lands abroad. Church tradition notes that they may have been from three different continents. They were most-likely not Jewish. It’s hard to say what tradition they practiced or why they came to the baby Jesus or why they listened to the dream that warned them about Herod. Despite all these uncertainties, I have been dwelling continually on what that other road was like.
Sure, there are the geographical questions, but what about the life questions? As someone who is both a religious leader and an interfaith leader, I feel like my ministry is filled with opportunities to take other roads. Interfaith cooperation is not about doing the same old thing, it is doing an entirely new thing. We encounter injustice and suffering in many different ways in the world in which we live. Are there other roads that we can join people who might not think the same way we do, but surely are capable of loving in the same way?
My hope and prayer is that this post serves as a motivation to begin thinking outside the box. Encourage your own faith community to reach out to other faith communities or non-religious groups to get involved in a larger issue. I am making it a part of my ministry to intentionally work with other faith groups for service projects. Sometimes it seems difficult to find the time to do such things, but when we think of it as taking another road it shifts our mode of thought. Interfaith cooperation is not a simple action, but an entire paradigm shift in how we think about and engage in the world around us. Let us reap the wisdom from these wise ones of ancient times and not be afraid to take another road to see what can be.