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Take a Different Road

The Guideposts executive editor explains the real story of Christmas.

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Did you ever have a set of those wooden crèche figures in your house with Mary and Joseph, Jesus in the manger with a few shepherds and some sheep, not to mention a donkey or even cow and chickens?

In our house we also had three kings plus a camel who traveled around the house going from the closet to the piano top to the kitchen counter to the coffee table before they approached the manger on January 6.

January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, is the day traditionally set aside to celebrate the wise men’s arrival of the wise men in Bethlehem and my kids were convinced that the three kings couldn’t arrive until then. (In some countries they don’t even give presents until then, a tradition the kids didn’t insist on.)

When they had me as a Sunday School teacher I would make them read the account in the Bible where they found out that it doesn’t say anything about three kings, just wise men of an undetermined number who gave gold, frankincense and myrrh (probably where the tradition of three comes from).

The part of the story that always stuck with me is that after they see Jesus and Mary, they were warned to avoid the violent King Herod and as they Bible puts it they went home “by a different road.”

Hey, Christmas is over, the tree has been taken down, the ornaments put away, the gifts exchanged, the thank you notes written (maybe not all of them), the cookies gone. But if you hold on to Christmas—I’m all for holding on to it tight—you’ll be someone different than you were before. You’re somehow changed.

You’ll take a new road. Like the wise men.

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor at GUIDEPOSTS.


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