Who doesn’t like a good road trip movie? Some of my personal favorites include Dorothy skipping down the yellow brick road toward Oz, Olive travelling on a mini bus to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant, and a chain gang’s odyssey through depression-era Mississippi in O Brother, Where Art Thou. The characters on each of these road trip journeys are driven by hope for something more or something better than what their life holds at the outset.
One of the most hopeful journeys we remember during the Christmas season is one taken by three men as they followed a star in search of a new king. A crucial juncture in this journey is captured by artist James Tissot in his 1894 painting “Journey of the Magi.” At least one critic notes that Tissot’s intent was to capture the three men as their separate caravans meet up and they become travelers together on a common journey. The painter places them in the foreground of the scene, sitting astride lively camels, dressed boldly in flowing yellow robes. With intense focus, they fearlessly move forward in search of the promised one. They ride three abreast, portrayed as equals; each committed to reaching their far-off goal together.
This Journey of the Magi moment captured by Tissot holds a special message for those of us in professional ministry today. Whenever we feel like we are going it alone, this painting encourages us to look to our left, and then to our right. Hopefully, we can each see that, like the Magi, we are not alone at all. We travel with brave others who have also committed their lives to “following the star.” We know from scripture that the Magi reach their goal together. They find promise at the end of their journey. They find hope and peace and joy and love. They find Emmanuel, God with us . . . and they worship.
May this season be a time of reconnecting with colleagues who remain our fellow travelers in ministry. We are still on the road, travelling together toward hope. This is good news worth sharing. And who doesn’t like a good news story?